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jSlorfh  Carolina  Sfate  Library 

Series  XVII  No.  7-8 



Historical   and    Political   Science 

HERBERT  B.  ADAMS,  Editor 

History  is  past  Politics  and  Politics  are  present  History. — Freeman 




JOHN  SPENCER  BASSETT,   Ph.D.   (J.  H.  U.) 

Professor  of  History  and  Political  Science,  Trinity  College  (North  Carolina). 


Published  Monthly 

JULY-AUGUST,    1899 


3313  si 

COPYRIGHT    1899    BY    N.    MURRAY. 


The  author  desires  to  express  here  his  sense  of  obligation 
to  the  many  friends  who  have  so  kindly  made  suggestions 
and  furnished  him  with  facts  bearing  on  this  monograph. 
Their  cheerful  compliance  with  his  requests  has  made  the 
work  easier  than  it  might  have  been.  Among  those  to 
whom  he  is  especially  indebted  are,  Dr.  B.  F.  Arrington, 
Dr.  Thomas  Hill,  and  Maj.  D.  W.  Hurt,  of  Goldsboro,  N. 
C;  Dr.  K.  P.  Battle,  of  the  University  of  North  Carolina; 
Dr.  J.  D.  Huffham,  of  Henderson,  N.  C. ;  Rev.  J.  B.  Rich- 
ardson, of  High  Point,  N.  C,  and  Col.  John  D.  Whitford,  of 
Nevvbern,  N.  C.  To  each  of  these  gentlemen  he  returns 
his  sincere  thanks. 

Durham,  N.  C,  July  7,  1899. 


Introduction:     General  Characteristics 7 

I.  Legal  Status  of  the  Slave;  The  Slave  in  Court,  Runaways, 
The  Slave's  Right  to  Hunt,  The  Slave's  Right  to 
Travel  and  Trade,  The  Slave's  Right  to  Life 10 

II.     Free    Negroes   and    Emancipation;    Emancipation,    Free 

Negroes 29 

III.  Religious  Life 47 

IV.  Industrial   and   Social  Life;  Population,  Distribution,  The 

Regulation  of  the  Slave's  Life yy 

V.     The  Triumph  of  the  Pro-Slavery  Sentiment;  Slave   Con- 
spiracies, The  Growth  of  the  Pro-Slavery  Sentiment  .    .      94 

Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina. 


The  story  of  slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina  may 
be  considered  in  two  parts,  the  dividing  point  of  which  is  the 
year  1831.  Before  this  year  the  general  conditions  of  the 
slave  were  more  humane  than  after  it.  Public  feeling  on 
the  question  was  then  unimpassioned.  Some  people  opposed 
it;  some  favored  it.  It  seems  to  have  been  discussed  in  a 
sane  way,  as  a  matter  of  public  policy  and  without  any 
extraordinary  excitement  or  recrimination.  After  1831, 
or  about  that  year — for  no  fine  and  distinct  dividing 
point  can  properly  be  made — the  conditions  of  slavery 
became  more  severe.  One  law  after  another  was  passed 
which  bore  hardly  on  the  slave,  until  at  last  he  was 
bound  hand,  foot,  and  brain  in  the  power  of  his  master. 
Moreover,  public  feeling  became  inflamed.  Slavery  could 
no  longer  be  discussed  as  a  public  policy,  and  there  arose 
with  most  people  in  the  State  a  fervent  intolerance  of  all 
views  advanced  against  the  system. 

The  causes  of  this  remarkable  development  have  often 
been  enumerated.  Later  on  in  this  work  I  propose  to 
explain  the  matter  with  some  degree  of  fulness  in  a  chapter 
on  the  development  of  the  pro-slavery  sentiment.  Here 
it  cannot  be  necessary  to  do  more  than  point  out  the  gen- 
eral facts  of  the  process. 

In  this  sense  the  chief  cause  of  this  change  was  the  inven- 
tion of  the  cotton  gin  and  the  consequent  opening  up  of  the 
cotton  industry,  not  only  in  many  parts  of  North  Carolina, 


8  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [324 

but  in  the  entire  Gulf  region.  This  gave  a  strong  impetus 
to  the  settling  of  large  plantations  which  hitherto  had  been 
limited  for  the  most  part  to  the  rice  producing  regions.  A 
wide  extension  of  slavery  could  never  have  been  made  on 
the  basis  of  the  small  farm,  where  there  was  necessarily 
much  white  labor.  In  North  Carolina,  and  elsewhere,  no 
doubt,  it  was  noticeable  that  slavery,  even  in  the  days  of  the 
greatest  excitement  over  the  slave  question,  was  of  a  milder 
type  in  the  western  counties.  Here  the  farms  were  small. 
Slave-owners  had  but  few  slaves.  With  these  they  mingled 
freely.  They  worked  with  them  in  the  fields,  ploughing  side 
by  side.  The  slave  cabins  were  in  the  same  yard  with  the 
master's  humble  home.  Slave  children  and,  indeed,  slave 
families  were  directly  under  the  eye  of  the  master,  and  better 
still,  of  the  mistress.  On  such  farms  from  five  to  twenty 
slaves  was  a  usual  quota,  although  their  number  often  went 
to  fifty  and  even  higher.  Could  this  type  of  bondage  have 
predominated  in  the  South,  it  is  likely  that  slavery  would 
sooner  or  later  have  softened  itself,  as  in  the  disintegrating 
Roman  Empire,  into  some  less  austere  forms  of  servile  labor, 
until  at  last  it  came  by  successive  stages  to  the  light  of  free- 
dom. That  it  did  not  happen  was  due  to  the  aristocracy  of 

The  triumph  of  the  cotton  aristocracy  did  not  come  in  a 
day.  In  1800  North  Carolina  was,  except  certain  sections 
in  the  far  East,  in  the  grasp  of  the  small  farm  system.  There 
were  then  many  people  in  the  State  who  opposed  slavery. 
Some  of  them  were  statesmen  who,  like  Jefferson  and  Wash- 
ington, looked  to  the  day  of  freedom.  They  were  strong 
enough  to  offset  and  keep  down  a  certain  thorough-going 
tendency  to  deal  with  slaves  in  a  summary  manner,  which 
from  the  first  was  not  wanting  with  some  legislators.  But 
as  the  large  estate  prevailed,  the  pro-slavery  influence 
became  stronger.  The  arguments  on  this  side  were  natur- 
ally aggressive ;  and  those  on  the  other  side  were  conserva- 
tive. The  former  caught  the  support  of  the  younger  men 
in  politics.     As  time  passed  the  older  party  was  weakened 

325]  Introduction.  9 

by  the  death  of  its  leaders,  and  the  new  party  gained 
strength.  It  was  in  183 1  that  the  latter  was  able  definitely 
to  triumph  over  the  former. 

There  are  two  well-known  facts  that  secured  this  decisive 
victory;  that  is  to  say,  the  Nat  Turner  rebellion  and  the 
beginning  of  the  more  vigorous  anti-slavery  agitation  in  the 
North.  The  former  won  the  victory;  the  latter  undoubt- 
edly made  it  forever  sure. 

Looking  behind  these  two  facts,  however,  it  is  worth 
while  to  ask  how  much  the  newer  development  of  slavery, 
due  to  cotton  cultivation,  had  to  do  with  these  two  occur- 
rences. To  attempt  to  answer  this  question  here  would  be  to 
anticipate  the  task  of  the  historian  of  slavery  in  general.  I 
shall  only  venture  to  suggest  that  it  may  be  probable  that 
the  growing  harshness  of  slavery,  either  in  Virginia  or  in 
the  far  South,  led  Nat  Turner  to  make  his  futile  attempt 
at  freedom.  With  more  confidence  I  might  assert  that  the 
certain  extension  of  slavery  in  the  Gulf  States,  as  well  as 
in  the  older  slave  States,  nerved  the  anti-slavery  associates 
of  Garrison  to  a  fiercer  battle.  They  saw,  they  must  have 
seen,  that  the  enemy  against  whom  they  contended  was 
every  day  growing  stronger.  This  aroused  their  efforts 
in  the  first  instance,  and  made  the  fight  more  bitter  through- 
out its  course.  This  increased  strength  of  slavery  was  due 
to  cotton.  But  for  this  the  famous  contest  in  the  Virginia 
Legislature  of  183 1  might  have  had  another  end.  Mr. 
D.  R.  Goodloe1  is  authority  for  the  view  that  such  a  triumph 
of  anti-slavery  in  Virginia  would  have  carried  North  Caro- 
lina against  slavery.  Such  a  victory  in  either  State,  or  in 
both,  would  have  broken  the  sectional  balance  in  the  United 
States  Senate  and  secession  would  have  been  blighted  ere  it 
had  sprouted. 

1  See  a  manuscript  sketch  by  Mr.  Goodloe  himself,  which  is  pre- 
served among  the  papers  of  the  Trinity  College  Historical  Society. 



The  spirit  of  the  slavery  legislation  in  the  State  of  North 
Carolina  conforms  to  the  development  that  has  been  indi- 
cated. Before,  and  immediately  after,  1800  many  of  the 
laws  passed  indicated  a  milder  spirit.  After  that  they 
became  more  austere  till  they  finally  partook  of  the  spirit  of 
harshness  to  which  allusion  has  been  made.  But  this  devel- 
opment did  not  come  because  of  deliberate  cruelty  on  the 
part  of  the  slave-owners.  There  are  throughout  the  period 
of  greatest  restriction  enough  humane  laws  and  more  than 
enough  humane  custom  to  show  the  contrary.  It  came  as 
a  logical  consequence  of  the  conviction  that  the  future 
development  of  Southern  society  as  well  as  the  safety  of  the 
Southern  people  demanded  that  slavery  should  be  perpet- 
uated. Before  this  iron  necessity  every  impulse  to  human- 
ity, every  suggestion  for  a  better  elevated  negro  race,  was 
made  to  fall.  Now  and  again  some  sharp-eyed  pro-slavery 
advocate  would  discover  some  way  by  which  it  was  thought 
that  the  slave  could  lift  himself  out  of  slavery,  and  the  way 
would  be  as  promptly  closed  up.  At  one  time  it  was  teaching- 
slaves  to  read,  again  it  was  allowing  negroes  to  preach  to 
their  race,  again  it  was  allowing  free  negroes  to  attend 
muster,  and  sometimes  it  was  allowing  a  slave  to  hire  his 
own  time.  In  every  case  the  Legislature  was  prompt  with 
its  veto.  And  yet  it  is  certain  that  the  feeling  of  the  com- 
munity was  not  so  harsh  as  these  laws  indicate.  Severe 
laws  were  often  not  obeyed.  Besides  some  other  provi- 
sions of  the  law,  the  single  case  of  the  State  vs.  Will  is  suffi- 
cient evidence  of  this  humaner  feeling.  This  case  is  remark- 
able because  it  settled,  in  1834,  just  at  the  time  when  the 

327]  The  Legal  Status  of  the  Slave.  11 

pro-slavery  sentiment  was  in  the  flush  of  victory  over  the 
conservatives,  the  question  that  a  slave  had  a  right  to  defend 
himself  against  the  apparently  murderous  attack  of  his 
master  or  overseer.  Such  a  decision  granted  the  slave  all 
the  rights  of  a  moral  conscience  and  gave  the  lie  direct  to 
the  notion  that  the  slave  is  not  a  person,  the  notion  which 
underlay  the  Dred  Scott  decision. 

These  two  opposite  tendencies  of  greater  austerity  and  of 
greater  sympathy  within  the  bounds  of  slavery  existed  con- 
jointly throughout  the  period  we  have  under  consideration. 
In  considering  the  legal  status  of  slavery  as  well  as  the  gen- 
eral social  conditions  of  slaves,  the  reader  will  often  remark 
the  outcropping  of  one  or  both  of  them. 

The  Slave  in  Court. — During  the  period  of  statehood  the 
slave  law  of  1741  continued  the  basis  of  the  law  of  slavery, 
although  it  was  frequently  modified.  By  this  law  two  or 
more  justices  of  the  peace  and  four  freeholders  were  con- 
stituted a  court  to  hold  the  trial  of  a  slave.1  But  in  1793 
(chap.  5)  the  slave  received  the  additional  security  of  being 
tried  for  offenses  involving  life,  limb,  or  member  before  a 
jury  of  twelve  slaveholders  in  open  County  Court,  but  "in 
a  summary  way."  If,  however,  the  County  Court  were  not 
to  meet  in  regular  order  in  fifteen  days  after  the  arrest  of  the 
slave,  the  sheriff  was  to  call  a  special  court  of  three  justices 
of  the  peace  and  twelve  disinterested  slaveholding  jurymen, 
as  before  provided,  and  these  were  to  have  the  powers 
of  the  County  Court  for  the  case  at  issue.  The  owner  was 
to  have  notice  and  might  defend  his  slave,  and  if  the  case 
went  against  the  slave  he  paid  the  costs ;  but  if  the  master 
were  unknown  the  slave  was  allowed  counsel.  What  was 
meant  by  the  expression  "in  a  summary  way"  was  defined 
in  an  explanatory  act  a  year  later  (Laws  of  1794,  chap. 
11).  It  was  at  first  intended  doubtless  that  the  court  should 
not  be  bound  by  the  ordinary  rules  of  pleading.  Now  it 
was  declared  with  more  explicitness  that  the  jury  should 

1  See  the  author's  "  Slavery  and  Servitude  in  the  Colony  of  North 
Carolina,"  pp.  28-29. 

12  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [328 

return  a  verdict  on  the  evidence  submitted  by  the  Court,  and 
that  the  Court  should  give  judgment  "agreeable  to  the  ver- 
dict of  the  jury  and  the  laws  of  the  country."  By  this  it 
seems  that  the  penalties  inflicted  on  white  men  for  the  crimes 
in  question  were  extended  to  slaves  convicted  of  the  same 

Further  guarantees  of  security  were  given  in  1816  (chap. 
14)  when  it  was  provided  that  slaves  charged  with  capital 
offenses  should  be  tried  in  the  Superior  Courts ;  and  that 
the  trial  was  to  be  conducted  as  the  trial  of  a  freeman, 
unless  the  charge  were  conspiracy.  It  was  expressly  stated 
that  there  must  be  a  presentment  by  the  grand  jury;  that  the 
owner  must  be  notified ;  that  the  hearing  might  be  removed  to 
another  county  on  affidavit  of  owner ;  that  an  offense  clergy- 
able for  freemen  was  to  be  clergyable  for  slaves ;  and  that 
the  slave  with  the  advice  of  his  master  might  challenge  the 
jury  for  cause.  Otherwise  the  trial  was  to  follow  the  law  of 
1777  (chap.  2)  and  that  of  1779  (chap.  6).  If  the  charge 
were  conspiracy  the  trial  was  to  be  by  special  commission  of 
Oyer  and  Terminer  issued  by  the  Governor  to  a  Superior 
Court  on  the  petition  of  five  freeholders  in  the  county  in 
which  the  conspiracy  was  alleged  to  have  occurred.  Conspir- 
acy was  an  exceptional  affair  in  reference  to  the  slave;  but 
for  ordinary  cases  the  status  of  the  slaves  improved  steadily. 
In  1818  a  slave  on  trial  for  his  life  was  given  the  full  right  of 
a  freeman  to  challenge  jurors.1  Thus  in  the  matter  of  his  life 
the  standing  of  the  slave  approached  nearly  to  that  of  the 

In  1820  a  further  distinction  between  the  trial  of  a  free- 
man and  a  slave  was  obviated  when  it  was  provided  that 
v/hen  a  slave  was  convicted  of  a  capital  offense  the  costs 
should  be  paid  by  the  county.2 

Minor  offenses  were  tried  differently.  By  the  law  of  1741 
they  were  tried  in  the  same  way  as  capital  offenses.  But  in 
1783  (chap.  14)  it  was  enacted  that  a  justice  of  the  peace 

Revision  of  1821,  chap.  972.  2  Ibid.,  chap.  1073. 

329]  The  Legal  Status  of  the  Slave.  13 

before  whom  the  case  of  a  slave  was  brought  should  try  the 
case  at  once,  if  it  were  less  than  a  capital  crime  and  if,  in  his 
judgment,  the  penalty  ought  not  to  be  heavier  than  forty 
lashes.  Such  trial  was  to  be  "in  a  summary  way."  Cases 
between  these  minor  cases  and  capital  cases  gradually 
came  to  be  tried  in  the  County  Courts,  as  capital  cases  were 
to  be  tried  in  the  Superior  Court.  Here  also  the  trial  was  to 
be  conducted  "under  the  same  rules,  regulations  and  restric- 
cions  as  the  trials  of  freemen ;"  and  the  slave  was  entitled  to 
a  jury  of  slaveholders.1 

The  law  as  just  stated  remained  in  force  till  the  war,  with 
the  difference  that  the  cases  hitherto  left  to  the  County 
Courts  went  now  to  one  or  more  justices  of  the  peace,  if 
they  chose  to  sit  on  the  case,  and  the  penalty  was  to  be  whip- 
ping not  to  exceed  thirty-nine  lashes  on  the  bare  back. 
Appeal  was,  by  law  of  1842  (chap.  3),  to  be  allowed  to  the 
County  or  the  Superior  Court.  Such  offenses  were  what 
were  called  "inferior  offenses"  and  crimes  which  if  done 
by  free  persons  would  be  cognizable  in  the  County  Court. 
Some  of  the  "inferior  offenses"  ought  to  be  mentioned. 
Among  them  were  insolence  to  a  free  white  person ;  slan- 
dering a  free  white  person,  or  trespassing  on  the  property 
of  such  a  person  ;  intermarrying  or  cohabiting  with  a  free 
negro;  having  sexual  intercourse  or  indulging  in  grossly 
indecent  familiarity  with  a  white  female ;  trying  to  teach  a 
slave  to  read  or  to  write — the  use  of  figures  excepted; 
exhorting  or  preaching  or  holding  any  other  public  religious 
service  where  slaves  of  different  families  were  assembled ; 
playing  cards,  dice  or  nine-pins,  or  gambling  for  money, 
liquor  or  other  property;  raising  cattle,  hogs,  horses,  etc.; 
producing  a  forged  pass  or  certificate  of  freedom,  and  some 
other  offenses.  Felonies  and  other  offenses  of  slaves  not 
given  for  trial  to  a  justice  of  the  peace  were  to  be  tried  before 
the  Superior  Court  in  the  manner  of  the  trials  of  freemen 
and  before  juries  of  slave-owners.2    Conspiracy  to  rebel  was 

1  Revised  Statutes,  1837,  P-  582.  2  Revised  Code,  pp.  510-11. 

14  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [330 

also  construed  a  felony  and  punishment  was  to  be  death  or 

The  payment  of  the  owners  for  slaves  executed  by  law 
was  a  hard  matter  to  settle.  At  the  beginning  of  statehood 
the  State  paid  the  owner  for  the  slave,  and  in  17791  the 
Assembly  fixed  the  maximum  value  of  such  a  slave  at  £  700, 
continental  money,  then  much  depreciated.  In  1786  (chap. 
17)  the  Assembly  repealed  all  acts  allowing  payment  for 
executed  slaves,  since,  as  it  declared,  "many  persons  by  cruel 
treatment  of  their  slaves  cause  them  to  commit  crimes  for 
which  many  of  the  said  slaves  are  executed."  Masters  now 
for  financial  reasons  protected  their  slaves  from  prosecution, 
and  there  was  a  demand  for  a  return  to  the  old  system. 
Formerly  the  burden  had  been  borne  by  the  whole  State, 
and  this  was  considered  unfair  to  the  counties  which  had 
few  slaves.  The  final  solution  lay  in  local  action.  In  1796 
(chap.  27)  seven  eastern  counties  were  authorized  to  lay  a 
tax  to  pay  for  slaves  executed  within  their  respective  bor- 
ders, the  owner  to  receive  two-thirds  of  the  value  of  the 
slave,  as  estimated  by  the  jury  that  pronounced  him  guilty. 
This  amount,  however,  was  not  to  be  paid  unless  the  jury 
was  convinced  that  the  owner  had  properly  fed  and  clothed 
the  delinquent  slave.  A  tax  for  such  a  purpose  was  to  be 
levied  on  the  black  polls  of  the  county.  This  law  seems  to 
have  worked  well  for  within  a  few  years  several  other  coun- 
ties had  been  granted  the  same  privileges. 

Runaways. — In  the  above  section  the  development  was  in 
favor  of  a  more  humane  treatment  of  a  slave.  There  had 
been  an  honest  desire  to  secure  justice  to  the  slave,  and 
the  graver  offenses  were  put  on  the  same  basis  as  in  the 
graver  cases  of  freemen.  It  could  be  done  because  in  no 
way  was  the  perpetuity  of  slavery  concerned.  This  was  not 
true  in  regard  to  runaways.  Such  slaves  threatened  the  very 
life  of  slavery.  The  law  of  colonial  days  on  this  subject  had 
been  stringent;  and  that  was  slightly  modified  after  the 

1Laws  of  1779,  3d  session,  chap.  12. 

331]  The  Legal  Status  of  the  Slave.  15 

Revolution.  Such  enactments  as  were  made  had  to  do* 
chiefly  with  persons  who  aided  runaways.  Thus  in  1779 
(1st  session,  chap.  11)  it  was  made  a  capital  felony  to  steal 
or  seduce  away  a  slave  and  this  law  remained  in  force  till 
the  war.1  This  probably  referred  to  persons  who  stole 
slaves  as  property;  but  in  the  same  act  it  was  further  pro- 
vided that  whoever  aided  a  runaway  to  escape  should  on 
conviction  pay  £  100  to  the  owner  of  the  fugitive  and,  in 
addition,  whatever  damages  might  be  incurred.  In  1793 
(chap.  5)  it  was  made  a  capital  felony  for  a  ship  captain  to 
take,  or  knowingly  allow  others  to  take,  a  slave  out  of  the 
State  without  the  written  consent  of  the  slave's  master. 

In  the  days  of  exasperation  against  the  anti-slavery  party 
in  the  North  more  stringent  rules  were  made.  From  1825 
till  1833  there  were  three  laws  passed,  the  substance  of 
which  was  to  make  the  stealing  of  a  slave  with  the  purpose 
of  sending  him  out  of  the  State,  or  the  aiding  of  one  to 
escape  out  of  the  State,  a  felony  punishable  by  death.2  This 
law  remained  in  effect  till  i860.3  This  was  no  doubt  aimed 
at  Northern  men  bent  on  working  the  Underground  Rail- 
way. For  ordinary  cases  of  persuading  slaves  to  run  away 
or  for  harboring  runaways  one  should  on  conviction  pay  the 
owner  of  the  slave  a  fine  of  $100  and  damages  and  be  liable 
to  fine  of  $100  more,  and  might  furthermore  be  indicted  and 
fined  another  $100  and  imprisoned  not  more  than  six 
months.4  The  latter  amendments  were  passed  in  182 1  and 

The  Slave's  Right  to  Hunt. — Here,  too,  the  question  of  the 
perpetuity  of  slavery  was  involved.  For  slaves  to  hunt  with 
a  gun  jeopardized  the  masters'  lives.  Throughout  the  period 
of  statehood  there  was  no  disposition  to  relax  the  strict  pro- 
hibition of  this  practice.  Anyone  who  found  a  slave  so 
hunting  might  take  the  gun  for  his  own  use  and  carry  the 

1  Revised  Statutes,  chap.  34,  sec.  10,  and  Revised  Code,  chap.  34, 
sec.  10.  2  Revised  Statutes,  chap.  34,  sec.  11. 

3  Revised  Code,  chap.  34,  sec.  11. 

*Revised  Statutes,  chap.  34,  sec.  73,  and  Revised  Code,  chap.  34, 
sec.  81. 

16  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [332 

slave  to  the  nearest  constable  who  should  at  once  give  the 
slave  twenty  lashes  on  his  bare  back  and  the  owner  should 
pay  the  same  reward  as  was  paid  for  taking  up  a  runaway.1 

The  Slave's  Right  to  Travel  and  Trade. — The  patrol,  which 
had  been  established  in  1753,2  became  steadily  a  more  per- 
manent institution  as  the  people  became  more  convinced  of 
the  necessity  of  keeping  slavery  unassailed.  In  1779  (3d 
session,  chap.  8)  it  was  required  to  make  a  general  search 
once  a  month  and  to  report  to  the  County  Court.  Slaves 
off  their  masters'  plantations  on  Sunday  were  to  be  arrested, 
unless  they  had  passes  or  were  in  the  company  of  a  white 
man.  In  1794  (chap.  4)  it  was  provided  that  the  patrol 
should  be  appointed  by  the  County  Court  whenever  it 
should  think  necessary.  No  more  than  six  men  should  be 
appointed  to  the  district  of  each  militia  captain.  The  patrol 
was  to  be  in  office  one  year,  was  to  have  stipulated  fees  and 
one-half  of  the  money  from  fines  under  this  act  of  1794,  and 
was  to  be  exempt  from  road  and  jury  duty.  Two  patrolmen 
going  together  were  to  cover  a  district  at  least  once  a  fort- 
night. They  might  whip — not  to  exceed  fifteen  lashes — 
slaves  found  off  their  master's  land  without  permission. 

In  1802  there  was  an  alarm  over  a  reported  slave  insur- 
rection in  Bertie  and  adjoining  counties.  This  induced  the 
Assembly  to  provide  a  still  more  efficient  patrol.3  The 
County  Court  was  now  authorized  to  appoint  patrolers  in 
such  numbers  and  under  such  rules  as  it  might  think  neces- 
sary, the  patrolers  retaining  the  powers  and  privileges  con- 
ferred by  the  act  of  1794.  To  support  the  patrol  the  County 
Court  was  given  the  authority  to  levy  a  special  tax  of  one 
shilling  on  each  black  poll.  In  the  same  year  (1802,  chap. 
68)  the  militia  of  Gates,  Pasquotank,  and  Camden  Counties 
were  constituted  a  patrol.  The  captains  were  directed  to 
divide  their  companies  into  squads  of  four  or  five  men  who 

1  Revised  Statutes,  chap,  ill,  sec.  23,  and  Revised  Code,  chap.  107, 
sec.  26. 
'See  author's  "Slavery  and  Servitude,"  p.  38. 
8  Laws  of  1802,  chap.  15. 

North  Carolina  State  Library 

333]  The  Legal  Status  of  the  Slave.  17 

were  to  search  their  respective  neighborhoods  once  in  three 
weeks  and  to  whip  slaves  found  at  large. 

No  further  change  was  made  in  the  patrol  till  1830  (chap. 
16,  sees.  1  and  14)  when  the  County  Court  was  given  author- 
ity to  appoint,  if  it  saw  fit,  a  Patrol  Committee  of  three  per- 
sons in  each  captain's  district  who  might  appoint  as  many 
patrolers  as  they  thought  necessary,  provided  that  this 
should  not  prevent  the  County  Court  from  appointing 
patrols  as  they  saw  fit.  The  patrol  was  now  given  large 
powers  of  arrest.  The  patrolers  were  enjoined  to  visit  sus- 
pected places,  to  disperse  assemblages  of  slaves,  to  be  dili- 
gent in  arresting  runaways,  to  detect  thefts,  and  to  report 
persons  who  traded  with  slaves.  The  patrol,  or  any  two  of 
them,  should  "have  such  powers  as  may  be  necessary  to  a 
proper  discharge  of  the  duties  herein  enjoined,"  ran  the  law. 
If  a  negro  who  was  being  whipped  was  insolent  to  them  he 
might  be  further  punished  not  to  exceed  thirty-nine  lashes 
in  all.  The  Patrol  Committee  was  given  power  to  dis- 
charge patrolers  and  to  appoint  others  in  the  vacancies.  To 
refuse  to  serve  on  the  patrol  was  punished  by  a  fine  of  $2(3, 
to  go  to  the  support  of  the  patrol,  and  in  1835  (chap. 
22)  it  was  enacted  that  persons  who  refused  or  neglected  to 
perform  the  duties  of  this  office  should  be  fined  $25. 1 

There  was  more  than  one  reason  why  masters  did  not 
want  their  slaves  to  meet  at  slave-meetings  about  the  neigh- 
borhood. It  afforded  opportunity  for  concocting  mischief; 
and  it  demoralized  the  slaves  by  bringing  them  into  contact 
with  the  worst  negroes  of  the  community,  by  keeping  them 
up  till  late  at  night,  and  by  giving  them  a  desire  for  idle- 
ness. Accordingly  the  laws  were  always  against  such  slave- 
meetings.  In  1779  (2d  session,  chap.  10)  it  was  enacted  that 
an  ordinary  keeper  who  entertained  slaves  against  their 
master's  will  should  forfeit  his  license.  In  1794  (chap.  4)  it 
was  declared  that  no  person  should  permit  any  negroes,  bond 

xSee  Revised  Statutes,  chap.  86;  also  Tate  vs.  Neale,  1   Hawks, 
418,  and  Revised  Code,  chap.  83. 

18  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [334 

or  free,  to  meet  on  his  property  for  drinking  or  dancing  on 
penalty  of  fine  of  £.  10. 

The  commonest  crime  of  slaves  in  all  ages  is  no  doubt 
theft.  The  negro  has  been  called  thievish  by  nature.  Cer- 
tainly in  American  slavery  he  showed  a  decided  tendency 
to  petty  thievishness,  so  that  it  was  necessary  to  throw  a 
great  deal  of  legal  restraint  around  his  petty  business  rela- 
tions with  others.  Various  laws  were  passed  on  this  sub- 
ject. A  slave  must  not  trade  with  any  other  person  without 
the  written  consent  of  his  master,  the  article  for  which  per- 
mission to  trade  was  given  being  expressly  specified.1 
Between  1826  and  1833  a  series  of  laws  enumerated  the  arti- 
cles which  slaves  might  not  sell  without  the  consent  of  their 
masters.  These  were  articles  raised  on  the  farm,  tools,  food 
supplies,  and  articles  prepared  for  sale,  as  staves,  cloth,  and 
gold  and  silver  bullion.  Other  persons  were  forbidden  to 
sell  anything  at  all  to  slaves ;  provided,  however,  that  this 
should  not  hold  when  slaves  traded  with  the  written  permis- 
sion of  their  masters  between  sunrise  and  sunset,  Sunday 
excepted ;  but  this  proviso  was  not  to  apply  to  the  sale  of 
spirituous  liquors,  arms,  and  ammunition,  unless  they  were 
for  the  master's  own  use.2  How  rigidly  this  law  was  enforced 
may  be  seen  from  the  fact  that  in  1846  (chap.  42)  it  was 
enacted  that  this  section  should  not  be  construed  to  mean 
that  the  master  of  a  slave  was  not  to  give  him  these  prohib- 
ited articles  to  carry  from  one  place  to  another.3  Further 
indication  of  the  rigidness  of  the  law  is  seen  in  the  statement 
of  what  should  be  considered  presumptive  evidence  in  such 
a  case.  It  was  enacted  in  1826  (chap.  13,  sec.  6)  that  if  a 
slave  should  be  found  in  a  place  used  for  trade  between  nine 
o'clock  and  daybreak,  or  at  any  time  unless  his  master  sent 
him ;  or,  if  a  slave  should  stay  in  such  a  place,  unless  sent 
thither  by  his  master,  for  fifteen  minutes  with  the  door  shut ; 
or  if  he  should  come  out  of  such  a  place  with  articles  which 

1  Laws  of  1779,  1st  session,  chap.  11,  and  1788,  chap.  6. 

2  Revised  Statutes,  chap.  34,  sees.  75-78. 

3  Revised  Code,  chap.  34,  sees.  83-92. 

335]  The  Legal  Status  of  the  Slave.  19 

might  have  been  purchased  therein ;  it  should  be  presump- 
tive evidence  against  him.1  Shipmasters,  many  of  whom 
were  from  the  North,  were  forbidden  to  entertain  negroes 
or  mulattoes,  slaves  or  freemen,  on  their  ships  between  sun- 
set and  sunrise  or  on  Sunday,  unless  the  said  negroes  had 
permission  from  their  masters  or  from  a  justice  of  the  peace, 
or  unless  they  were  employed  on  board.2  Negroes  who 
violated  this  law  were  presumed  to  be  disposing  of  stolen 

Of  a  somewhat  similar  nature  was  the  custom  of  allowing 
a  slave  to  hire  his  own  time.  This  was  a  practice  by  which 
a  slave  paid  his  owner  a  certain  sum  of  money  for  his  own 
time  and  then  followed  some  line  of  work  in  which  he  was 
proficient.  The  more  industrious  negroes  who  had  trades, 
as  blacksmiths,  carpenters  and  bricklayers,  often  did  this. 
From  one  hundred  to  one  hundred  and  fifty  dollars  a  year 
was  the  amount  usually  paid  by  a  slave  for  his  own  time. 
Most  slaves  who  hired  their  time  did  it  with  the  intention 
of  buying  their  freedom,  and  many  of  them  accomplished 
their  purpose.  The  practice  gave  the  slave  more  liberty  of 
action  and  it  was  considered  undesirable  both  because  it 
increased  the  number  of  free  negroes  and  because  it  removed 
the  slave  so  hiring  from  the  strict  control  of  the  whites. 
Accordingly  it  was  enacted  as  early  as  1794  (chap.  4)  that 
no  slave  should  hire  his  time  on  penalty  of  being  hired  out 
for  a  year  by  the  sheriff  at  the  direction  of  the  County  Court, 
the  proceeds  to  go  to  the  poor.  There  is  good  reason  to 
believe  that  this  law  was  not  generally  executed,  but  it 
remained  on  the  statute  book  throughout  the  period  of 
slavery.3  Neither  should  a  slave  be  allowed  to  go  about 
as  a  freeman,  using  his  own  discretion  as  to  his  employ- 

1  Revised  Statutes,  chap.  34,  sec.  78,  and  Revised  Code,  chap.  34, 
sec.  88. 

2  Revised  Statutes,  chap.  34,  sec.  76,  and  Revised  Code,  chap.  34, 
sec.  93. 

3  Revised  Statutes,  chap,  in,  sec.  31,  and  Revised  Code,  chap.  107, 
sec.  28. 

20  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [336 

ment  or  living  in  a  house  to  himself  and  remote  from  other 
slaves,  as  a  freeman,  even  though  his  master  should  con- 

The  Slave's  Right  to  Life. — In  1774  it  was  enacted  that  a 
person  who  willfully  killed  a  slave  should  be  imprisoned  a 
year  for  the  first  offense  and  suffer  death  for  the  second.2 
In  1791  it  was  further  enacted  that  if  a  person  should  be 
convicted  of  maliciously  killing  a  slave  he  should  on  the 
first  conviction  be  held  guilty  of  murder  and  should  "suffer 
the  same  punishment  as  if  he  had  killed  a  freeman."  But 
in  1801,  in  the  case  of  the  State  vs.  Boon,  this  law  was 
declared  inoperative  on  the  ground  that  the  clause  which 
fixed  the  penalty  was  ambiguous.  There  were,  it  was  said, 
various  ways  of  punishing  freemen  for  murder.  Since  the 
law  left  a  shade  of  uncertainty  in  the  penalty  the  prisoner 
was  entitled  to  the  doubt  and  in  this  case  was  released.3 
Two  of  the  five  judges  of  the  court  gave  it  as  their  opinion 
that  the  malicious  killing  of  a  slave  was  murder  at  com- 
mon law,  and  the  three  others  did  not  contradict  the 
opinion.  It  is  possible  that  it  was  under  this  influence  that 
such  a  principle  began  to  be  held  by  the  courts,  since  Chief 
Justice  Taylor  declared  in  1820  that  if  a  white  person  killed 
a  slave  under  such  circumstances  as  constituted  murder  he 
might  have  been  punished  for  that  offense.4  A  difficulty 
arose,  however,  if  the  case  could  be  extenuated  to  man- 
slaughter. No  punishment  was  provided  for  that  offense,  and 
the  prisoner  was  uniformly  discharged.  The  Assembly, 
accordingly,  in  1817  enacted  that  "the  killing  of  a  slave 
shall  partake  of  the  same  degree  of  guilt,  when  accompanied 
with  like  circumstances,  that  homicide  now  does."  This, 
the  Court  held  in  1820,5  was  designed  "to  make  the  homi- 
cide of  a  slave,  extenuated  by  a  legal  provocation,  man- 

1  Revised  Statutes,  chap.  111,  sec.  32,  and  Revised  Code,  chap.  107, 
sec.  29. 

2  See  the  author's  "  Slavery  and  Servitude,"  p.  43. 
'North  Carolina  Reports,  vol.  1,  p.  103  (edition  of  1896). 
4Hawks's  Law,  p.  217.  5  Ibid.,  p.  210,  State  vs.  Tackett. 

337]  The  Legal  Status  of  the  Slave.  21 

slaughter."  After  stating  the  common  law  in  regard  to 
manslaughter  the  Court  added  that  in  the  very  nature  of 
slavery  "many  acts  will  extenuate  the  homicide  of  a  slave, 
which  would  not  constitute  a  legal  provocation  if  done  by  a 
white  person."  The  defining  of  these  acts  was  not 
attempted,  but  it  was  presumed  that  the  Court  and  jury 
would  estimate  them  seriously  in  individual  cases,  with  due 
regard  to  the  rights  of  slaves  and  white  men — "to  the  just 
claims  of  humanity,  and  to  the  supreme  law,  the  safety  of 
the  citizens." 

In  1823  the  Supreme  Court  in  the  case  of  the  State  vs. 
Reed,  declared  directly  that  the  killing  of  a  slave  might  be 
tried  as  murder  at  common  law,  Chief  Justice  Taylor  and 
Justice  Henderson  acquiescing  and  Justice  Hall  dissenting. 
The  grounds  of  the  decision  were  the  law  of  Nature  and 
Christianity.  Justice  Henderson  made  the  very  substantial 
statement  that  the  law  of  slavery  gave  the  master  the  con- 
trol of  the  services  of  the  slave  and  that  it  would  be  not 
too  scrupulous  in  adjusting  the  means  of  enforcing  these 
services.  "But  the  life  of  a  slave  being  in  no  ways  necessary 
to  be  placed  in  the  powers  of  the  owner  for  the  full  enjoy- 
ment of  his  services  the  law  takes  care  of  that ;  and  with  me 
it  has  no  weight  to  show  that,  by  the  laws  of  ancient  Rome 
or  modern  Turkey,  an  absolute  power  is  given  to  the  mas- 
ter over  the  life  of  his  slave.  I  answer,  these  are  not  the 
laws  of  our  country,  nor  the  mode  from  which  they  were 
taken.  It  is  abhorrent  to  the  hearts  of  all  those  who  have 
felt  the  influence  of  the  mild  precepts  of  Christianity."  The 
argument  of  Justice  Hall  was  on  the  basis  that  the  slave 
is  a  chattel.  Now  if  a  slave  be  killed  the  law  provides  that 
the  owner  has  an  action  for  trespass  against  the  slayer.  But 
if  killing  a  slave  be  murder  at  common  law  the  offender 
would  be  answerable  both  civiliter  and  criminaliter.  The 
Legislature  could  not  have  intended  to  create  such  a  condi- 
tion. Besides,  the  Legislature  in  1774  (chap.  31)  passed  a 
law  to  punish  the  killing  of  a  slave.     If  such  an  offense  had 

22  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [338 

been  cognizable  at  common  law  the  Legislature  need  not 
have  made  a  statute  on  the  subject.1 

The  effect  of  this  decision  was  modified  shortly  after- 
wards in  the  case  of  the  State  vs.  Hoover,  where  it  was 
held  that  if  a  slave  died  from  moderate  chastisement  of  his 
master  every  circumstance  which  in  the  general  course  of 
slavery  might  have  hurried  the  master  to  excess  would  be 
tenderly  regarded  by  the  law.  But  where  the  punishment 
was  barbarously  immoderate  and  accompanied  by  painful 
privation  of  food,  clothing,  and  rest,  it  is  not  correction  in 
foro  domestico,  indicates  deliberate  killing,  and  is  therefore 

The  next  question  to  be  taken  up  in  this  connection  was 
that  of  the  culpability  of  a  white  man  who  cruelly  beat  a 
slave.  In  1823,  in  the  case  of  the  State  vs.  Hale,3  it  was  held 
that  a  battery  committed  on  a  slave,  no  justifying  circum- 
stances being  shown,  was  an  indictable  offense.  But  it  was 
explicitly  stated  that  circumstances  which  would  not  justify 
a  battery  on  a  free  person  might  in  the  nature  of  slavery 
justify  an  assault  on  a  slave.  "The  offenses,"  said  the 
Chief  Justice  in  a  sentence  which  casts  a  clear  light  on  one 
phase  of  slavery  in  the  South,  "are  usually  committed  by 
men  of  dissolute  habits,  hanging  loose  upon  society,  who, 
being  repelled  from  association  with  well-disposed  citizens, 
take  refuge  in  the  company  of  colored  persons  and  slaves 
whom  they  deprave  by  their  example,  embolden  by  their 
familiarity,  and  then  beat,  under  the  expectation  that  a  slave 
dare  not  resent  a  blow  from  a  white  man."  This  principle 
did  not  apply,  however,  to  the  assault  of  a  master  on  his 
slave.  This  latter  case  was  taken  up  in  1829  in  the  case  of 
the  State  vs.  Mann,4  when  it  was  decided  that  a  master  was 
not  to  be  indicted  for  battery  on  his  slave,  that  he  who  has 

1  North  Carolina  Reports  (new  edition),  vol.  9,  p.  454. 

2  See  4  Devereaux  and  Battle,  p.  365. 

3 Ibid.,  p,  582.     Here  the  defendant  is  called  Hale.     Later  cases 
cite  this  case  as  State  vs.  Hall. 
*  North  Carolina  Reports  (new  edition),  13,  p.  263. 

339]  The  Legal  Status  of  the  Slave.  23 

a  right  to  the  services  of  a  slave  has  a  right  to  all  the  means 
of  controlling  his  conduct  that  belong  to  the  owner,  and 
that  this  rule  would  apply  to  the  hirer  of  a  slave.  The 
decision  was  given  by  Justice  Ruffin.  Although,  as  he 
affirmed,  there  was  no  question  about  a  master's  right  to 
inflict  any  kind  of  corporal  punishment  short  of  death  on 
his  slave,  he  still  stated  the  general  grounds  for  such  a 
principle.  There  had  been  no  prosecutions  of  masters  for 
such  an  offense.  Against  this  general  opinion  of  the  com- 
munity the  Court  ought  not  to  hold.  It  was  erroneously 
said  that  the  relation  of  master  and  slave  was  like  that  of 
parent  and  child,  and  it  was  held  that  a  parent  could  not 
commit  a  cruel  battery  on  his  own  son.  The  object  of  the 
training  of  a  son  was  the  life  of  a  freeman,  and  the  means  to 
be  used  was  moral  and  intellectual  instruction.  With 
slavery  it  was  otherwise.  "The  end,"  ran  the  decision,  "is 
the  profit  of  the  master,  his  security  and  the  public  safety; 
the  subject,  one  doomed  in  his  own  person  and  his  posterity, 
to  live  without  knowledge  and  without  the  capacity  to 
make  anything  his  own,  and  to  toil  that  another  may  reap 
the  fruits.  What  moral  considerations  shall  be  addressed 
to  such  a  being  to  convince  him  what  it  is  impossible  but 
that  the  most  stupid  must  feel  and  know  can  never  be  true — 
that  he  is  thus  to  labor  upon  a  principle  of  natural  duty,  or 
for  the  sake  of  his  own  personal  happiness.  Such  services 
can  only  be  expected  from  one  who  has  no  will  of  his  own, 
who  surrenders  his  will  in  implicit  obedience  to  that  of 
another.  Such  obedience  is  the  consequence  only  of  uncon- 
trolled authority  over  the  body.  There  is  nothing  else 
which  can  operate  to  produce  the  effect.  The  power  of  the 
master  must  be  absolute  to  render  the  submission  of  the 
slave  perfect.  I  most  freely  confess  my  sense  of  the  harsh- 
ness of  this  proposition.  I  feel  it  as  deeply  as  any  man 
can ;  and  as  a  principle  of  moral  right  every  person  in  his 
retirement  must  repudiate  it.  But  in  the  actual  conditions 
of  things  it  must  be  so.  There  is  no  remedy.  This  disci- 
pline belongs  to  the  state  of  slavery.     They  [the  discipline 

24  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [340 

and  slavery]  cannot  be  disunited  without  abrogating  at 
once  the  rights  of  the  master  and  absolving  the  slave  from 
his  subjection.  It  constitutes  the  curse  of  slavery  to  both 
the  bond  and  free  portion  of  our  population.  *  *  * 
The  slave,  to  remain  a  slave,  must  be  made  sensible  that 
there  is  no  appeal  from  his  master;  that  his  power  is  in  no 
instance  usurped ;  but  is  conferred  by  the  laws  of  man  at 
least,  if  not  by  the  laws  of  God."  The  Courts  could  not 
fix  the  punishment  due  to  the  violations  of  duty  by  the 
slave.  "No  man  can  anticipate  the  many  and  aggravated 
provocations  of  the  master  to  which  the  slave  would  be  con- 
stantly stimulated  by  his  own  passions  or  the  instigations 
of  others  to  give,  or  the  consequent  wrath  of  the  master 
prompting  him  to  bloody  vengeance  upon  the  turbulent 
traitor — a  vengeance  generally  practiced  with  impunity 
because  of  its  privacy."  I  do  not  think  that  One  can  find 
anywhere  in  the  annals  of  modern  justice  a  decision  more 
brutally  logical,  and  more  void  of  that  genial  spirit  of  pro- 
gressive amelioration  which  should  run  through  a  legal 
development.  Justice  Rufhn  announced  his  own  horror 
of  the  decision  he  was  giving  and  consoled  himself  with 
the  thought  that  the  softening  feeling  of  the  masters  in 
general  for  the  slaves  was  increasing  and  with  the  decreas- 
ing numbers  of  the  slaves,  would  eventually  enable  the 
relations  of  slavery  to  be  more  humane — a  result  more 
likely  to  come  in  this  way  "than  from  any  rash  expositions 
of  abstract  truths  by  a  judiciary  tainted  with  a  false  and 
fanatical  philanthropy."  Was  it  not  the  duty  of  the  Court 
to  give  such  a  decision  that  would  help  on  the  humaniz- 
ing process  by  giving  the  Courts  the  right  to  restrain  exces- 
sive cruelty  of  masters  towards  slaves  rather  than  by  crys- 
tallizing into  a  judicial  opinion  the  brutal  theory  of  the 
harshest  days  of  slavery  to  scotch  the  wheels  of  the  progress 
that  it  was  desired  to  see  abroad? 

It  was  fortunate  for  the  slave,  it  was  fortunate  for  the 
State,  that  this  spirit  was  not  permanent  in  the  Supreme 

341]  The  Legal  Status  of  the  Slave.  25 

Court  decisions.  In  1834  the  case  of  the  State  vs.  Will,1 
established  the  distinctly  milder  principle  that  a  slave  who 
was  barbarously  attacked  by  his  master  might  defend  him- 
self with  physical  force.  The  facts  of  the  case  were  these : 
Will  was  a  slave  who  became  angry  because  another  slave 
was  allowed  to  use  a  hoe  which  Will  used  and  had  helved 
in  his  own  time.  In  his  rage  he  broke  the  helve  and  went  to 
his  work.  When  the  overseer  knew  of  it  he  took  his  gun 
and  rode  to  the  place  at  which  Will  was  at  work.  He  called 
the  slave  to  him,  who  approached  humbly  with  his  hat  off. 
Some  words  were  exchanged  when  Will  began  to  run.  Then 
the  overseer  fired,  making  a  wound  in  the  back  of  the 
fugitive  which  might  have  proved  fatal.  The  terrified  slave 
was  pursued  and  caught  by  the  overseer  and  two  slaves, 
but  in  the  struggle  of  arrest  he  cut  the  overseer  with  a 
pocket  knife  so  that  the  overseer  bled  to  death.  All  the  cir- 
cumstances showed  that  Will  had  acted  in  supposed  self- 
defense.  His  plea  was  manslaughter — one  of  his  counsel 
was  B.  F.  Moore,2  then  young  and  unknown,  but  after- 
wards one  of  the  leading  lawyers  of  the  State.  At  the  out- 
set Mr.  Moore  was  confronted  by  Judge  Ruffin's  opinion  in 
the  case  of  the  State  vs.  Mann.  These  sentiments  he  dis- 
tinctly challenged.  "It  is  humbly  submitted,"  said  he,  "that 
they  are  not  only  abhorrent  and  startling  to  humanity,  but 
at  variance  with  statute  and  decided  cases."  Judge  Hender- 
son's opinion  in  the  State  vs.  Reed  was  quoted  to  show  that 
the  master's  power  extends  only  to  the  services  of  his  slave. 
Point  by  point  Judge  Ruffin's  opinion  so  far  as  it  related 
to  the  general  relation  of  master  and  slave  was  combated. 
One  eloquent  passage  will  indicate  the  nature  of  the  attack. 
Judge  Ruffin  had  said  that  the  slave  must  be  made  to 
realize  that  in  no  one  instance  was  the  master's  power 
usurped.     This,  exclaimed  Mr.  Moore,  repressed  thought 

1  See  "The  Trinity  College  Historical  Society  Papers,"  series  II, 
p.  12;  also  1  Devereaux  and  Battle,  p.  121. 

2  Mr.  G.  W.  Mordecai  was  also  associated  with  the  defense,  but 
Mr.  Moore's  argument  won  the  case. 

26  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [342 

and  "reduced  into  perfect  tameness  the  instinct  of  self- 
preservation,"  a  result  difficult  to  accomplish  and  lament- 
able if  accomplished.  But  if  the  relation  of  slavery  required 
"that  the  slave  shall  be  disrobed  of  the  essential  features 
that  distinguish  him  from  the  brute,  the  relation  must  adapt 
itself  to  the  consequences  and  leave  its  subjects  the 
instinctive  privileges  of  a  brute.  I  am  arguing  no  question 
of  abstract  right,  but  am  endeavoring  to  prove  that  the 
natural  incidents  of  slavery  must  be  borne  with  because 
they  are  inherent  to  the  condition  itself ;  and  that  any  attempt 
to  punish  the  slave  for  the  exercise  of  a  right  which  even 
absolute  power  cannot  destroy  is  inhuman  and  without  the 
slightest  benefit  to  the  security  of  the  master  or  to  that  of 
society  at  large.  The  doctrine  may  be  advanced  from  the 
bench,  enacted  by  the  Legislature,  and  enforced  with  all  the 
varied  agony  of  torture  and  still  the  slave  cannot  believe 
and  will  not  believe  that  there  is  no  instance  in  which  the 
master's  power  is  usurped.  Nature,  stronger  than  all,  will 
discover  many  instances  and  vindicate  her  rights  at  any  and 
at  every  price.  When  such  a  stimulant  as  this  urges  the 
forbidden  deed  punishment  will  be  powerless  to  proclaim 
or  to  warn  by  example.  It  can  serve  no  purpose  but  to 
gratify  the  revengeful  feelings  of  one  class  of  people  and  to 
influence  the  hidden  animosities  of  the  other." 

The  opinion  was  written  by  Justice  Gaston,  who  two 
years  earlier  had  said  in  a  public  address :  "Disguise  the 
truth  as  we  may,  and  throw  the  blame  where  we  will,  it  is 
slavery  which,  more  than  any  other  cause,  keeps  us  back 
in  the  career  of  improvement."1  Now  he  showed  him- 
self a  humane  judge :  He  said :  "Unconditional  submis- 
sion is,  in  general,  the  duty  of  the  slave ;  unquestioned  legal 
power  is,  in  general,  the  right  of  the  master.  Unquestion- 
ably there  are  exceptions  to  this  rule.  It  is  certain  that  the 
master  has  not  the  right  to  slay  his  slave,  and  I  hold  it  to 
be  equally  certain  that  the  slave  has  the  right  to  defend 
himself  against  the  unlawful  attempt  of  his  master  to  deprive 

1  Address  at  Chapel  Hill,  June  20,  1832,  p.  24. 

343]  The  Legal  Status  of  the  Slave.  27 

him  of  life.  There  may  be  other  exceptions,  but  in  a  matter 
so  full  of  difficulties,  where  reason  and  humanity  plead 
with  almost  irresistible  force  on  one  side,  and  a  necessary 
policy,  rigorous  indeed,  but  inseparable  from  slavery,  urges 
on  the  other,  I  fear  to  err  should  I  undertake  to  define 
them."  Neither  would  he  define  legal  provocation,  but  he 
did  say  that  a  slave's  unlawful  violence  excited  by  his  mas- 
ter's inhumanity  ought  not  to  be  construed  as  malice.  "The 
prisoner,"  said  the  Court,  "is  a  human  being,  degraded  by 
slavery,  but  yet  having  organs,  senses,  dimensions,  passions 
like  our  own."  No  malice  was  shown  in  the  evidence  and 
the  killing  was  pronounced  manslaughter.  It  was  a  notable 
case  and  it  fixed  a  humaner  spirit  in  the  law  of  slavery  in 
North  Carolina  until  the  end  of  that  institution. 

But  one  more  case  before  the  Supreme  Court  will  be 
mentioned,  that  of  the  State  vs.  Jarrot,1  in  1840.  It  was 
declared,  that  the  difference  between  homicide  through 
malice  and  homicide  through  passion  was  to  hold  as  much 
in  the  trial  of  a  slave  as  in  that  of  a  white  man  ;  but  the  same 
matters  which  would  be  sufficient  provocation  for  a  free- 
man would  not  be  sufficient  when  a  slave  had  killed  a  white 
man.  Some  words  of  a  slave  might  be  so  aggravating  as 
to  arouse  the  temporary  fury  which  negatives  the  charge 
of  malice,  "and  this  rule  holds  without  regard  to  personal 
merit  or  demerit  of  the  white  man."  The  insolence  of  a 
slave  would  justify  a  white  man  in  giving  him  moderate 
chastisement  at  the  moment,  but  would  not  authorize  an 
excessive  battery,  or  moderate  correction  after  the  insolence 
was  past.  The  rule  that  where  two  parties  become  angry 
and  fight  on  equal  terms  till  one  kills  the  other  the  crime 
is  manslaughter  is  not  to  apply  to  slaves,  but  to  equals  only, 
it  being  the  slave's  business  to  avoid  such  a  contest.  But 
if  the  battery  endangers  the  slave's  life  it  will  reduce  homi- 
cide by  him  to  manslaughter.2 

'North  Carolina  Reports,  23,  p.  75. 

2  This  decision  also  was  written  by  Judge  Gaston. 

28  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [344 

In  regard  to  the  slave's  legal  status  a  curious  case  has 
come  under  my  notice.  The  late  Dr.  John  Manning,  widely 
known  as  Professor  of  Law  at  the  State  University,  told 
me  that  Judge  Rumn,  the  senior,  told  him  that  a  case  was 
once  decided  in  the  North  Carolina  Supreme  Court  in  which 
it  was  held  that  a  white  man  could  not  be  convicted  of  forni- 
cation and  adultery  with  a  slave  woman,  because  such  a 
woman  had  no  standing  in  the  courts.  The  case,  said  Judge 
Rumn,  was  decided  early  in  this  century,  but  it  was  agreed 
that  in  the  interest  of  public  morality  it  should  not  be  pub- 

1  Inquiry  of  the  Clerk  of  the  Supreme  Court  fails  to  discover  the 
papers  in  reference  to  the  case  ;  but  since  there  is  no  other  index  to 
the  Supreme  Court  cases  than  the  printed  reports  it  is  quite  possible 
that  the  papers  are  preserved,  but  so  lost  among  a  vast  number  of 
documents  thatonly  a  long  and  careful  search  would  bring  them  to  light. 



Emancipation. — During  the  colonial  period  emancipation 
was  forbidden  except  for  meritorious  conduct  to  be 
adjudged  by  the  County  Court,1  and  this  law  was  confirmed 
by  the  Assembly  in  1777  (chap.  6)  and  further  explained 
in  1796  (chap.  5).2  At  the  beginning  of  the  Revolution 
"some  evil-minded  persons  intending  to  disturb  the  pub- 
lic peace"  liberated  their  slaves  and  left  them  at  large  in  the 
community.  The  authorities  in  Perquimons  and  Pasquo- 
tank counties  took  up  the  negroes  and  resold  them  into 
slavery.  The  Legislature  confirmed  these  sales  and  pro- 
vided that  other  such  slaves  at  large  might  be  sold  in  the 
same  way ;  provided,  however,  that  this  law  did  not  extend 
to  such  of  these  negroes  as  had  enlisted  in  the  patriot  army.3 

These  slaves  had  been  freed  by  the  Quakers,  who  were  at 
that  time  very  active  in  favor  of  emancipation.  Their 
liberated  slaves  were  going  about,  said  the  Assembly,  "to 
the  terror  of  the  people  of  the  State."  The  law  which  for- 
bade their  liberation  was  a  failure,  because  it  left  the  duty 
of  informing  of  its  violation  to  freeholders  only  and  made 
their  action  optional.  To  remedy  this  condition  the 
Assembly  in  1788  (chap.  20)  gave  the  duty  of  informing 
on  such  liberated  slaves  to  any  freeman,  and  thus  secured 
the  co-operation  of  the  landless  whites  who  were  usually 
strangely  willing  to  have  a  fling  at  the  slaves  and  who,  no 

1  See  the  author's  "  Slavery  and  Servitude,"  pp.  64-66. 

2  When  the  Superior  Courts  were  created  the  judging  of  meritorious 
conduct  was  left  to  them.     Revisal  of  1821,  chap.  971. 

3  Laws  of  1779,  2d  session,  chap.  12. 


30  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [346 

doubt,  were  anxious  to  get  the  reward  offered  for  such  infor- 

After  the  San  Domingo  revolt  in  1791  much  concern  was 
felt  in  the  Southern  States  lest  the  success  of  the  slaves  there 
should  inspire  attempts  at  insurrection  in  the  United  States. 
Several  new  features  of  the  slave  law  were  added,  one  of 
which  provided  that  no  slave  should  be  liberated  unless  he 
could  give  bond  in  the  sum  of  £200  that  he  would  remain 
quiet  and  orderly.1 

In  1830  (chap.  9)  it  was  made  more  difficult  to  emanci- 
pate. Now,  the  petitioner  must  notify  his  intention  at  the 
court  house  and  in  the  State  Gazette  six  weeks  before  the 
hearing  of  the  petition ;  he  must  give  bond  with  two  sureties 
for  $1000  that  the  said  slave  should  conduct  himself  well 
as  long  as  he  or  she  remained  in  the  State,  that  the  slave 
would  leave  the  State  within  ninety  days  after  liberation, 
and  the  said  liberation  should  invalidate  the  rights  of  no 
creditor.  Executors  of  wills  by  which  slaves  were  directed 
to  be  liberated  must  secure  consent  of  the  courts  and  take 
steps  to  send  the  negroes  out  of  the  State  and  guard  against 
the  loss  of  creditors.  A  slave  more  than  fifty  years  old 
might  be  liberated  for  meritorious  conduct  to  be  approved 
by  the  Court  without  subsequently  leaving  the  State,  pro- 
vided that  the  master  swore  that  the  emancipation  was  not 
for  money  and  that  he  gave  bond  that  the  negro  would 
conduct  himself  well  and  not  become  a  charge  on  the 
county.  No  slave  was  to  be  liberated  except  by  this  law.2 
This  law  remained  in  force  till  the  war.3  Within  the  strict 
conditions  herein  embraced,  ruled  the  Supreme  Court  in 
1841,  it  was  the  policy  to  facilitate  emancipation.4  Besides 
this  method,  slaves  were  occasionally  freed  by  special  Act 
of  the  Assembly. 

1  Laws  of  1795,  chap.  16. 
1  Revised  Statutes,  chap,  in,  sees.  57-64. 
3 Revised  Code,  chap.  107,  sees.  45-53. 

4Cameron   vs.  Commissioners  of    Raleigh  (the   Rex  Will  Case), 
1  Iredell's  Eq.,  p.  436. 

347]  Free  Negroes  and  Emancipation.  31 

Among  the  various  cases  reported  from  the  Supreme 
Court  in  regard  to  emancipation  there  are  several  from 
which  the  point  is  obtained  that  the  freedom  of  slaves  could 
be  acquired  through  prescription.  For  instance,  it  was  held 
that  when  a  woman  who  had  once  been  a  slave,  but  who  for 
thirty  years  or  more,  had  been  treated  as  a  free  person,  and 
her  daughter  with  her,  then  a  granddaughter  must  be  free ; 
for  it  would  be  proper  to  infer  that  so  long  an  enjoyment 
of  freedom  must  have  followed  legal  emancipation.  It  was 
not  attempted  to  fix  the  time  necessary  to  constitute  such 
liberation  by  prescription ;  but  in  the  cases  cited  thirty  and 
forty  years  are  the  periods  mentioned.1 

In  Sampson  vs.  Burgwin2  a  decided  tenderness  for  the 
slave  is  observed  in  the  Court.  Here  suit  was  brought  to 
invalidate  the  emancipation  of  a  slave,  because,  being  but  two 
years  old  when  liberated  and  being  freed  along  with  her 
mother,  she  could  not  have  performed  meritorious  ser- 
vices. The  Court  held  that  the  act  of  liberation  was  that 
of  "a  court  of  conclusive  jurisdiction,  and  could  not  be 
impeached  by  evidence  that  she  had  not  and  could  not  per- 
form such  services."  It  also  decided  that  a  petition  of  an 
owner  to  free  slaves  need  not  be  in  writing,  and  that  "in 
an  action  by  a  negro  to  try  his  right  to  freedom  if  evidence 
of  his  being  reputed  to  be  a  freeman  is  offered  it  is  admis- 
sible to  show  in  reply  acts  of  ownership  inconsistent  with 
reputation."     The  opinion  was  by  Ruffm,  Chief  Justice. 

Granting  permission  to  liberate  was  not  liberation,  as  was 
held  in  the  case  of  Bryan  vs.  Wadsworth.3  Here  Elizabeth 
Bryan,  of  Craven  County,  had  in  1808  received  permis- 
sion from  the  County  Court  to  liberate  her  slave  Abram 
for  meritorious  services  and  gave  the  bond  required  for 
the  same ;  but  further  she  did  not  go.  She  kept  Abram 
as  a  slave  till  1820,  when  she  sold  him.    He  then  sued  for 

1Brookfield  vs.  Stuart,  6  Jones,  p.  156;  Cully  vs.  Jones,  9  Iredell, 
p.  168;  Strange  vs.  Burnham,  12  Iredell,  p.  41. 
2  3  Devereaux  and  Battle's  Law,  p.  28. 
3 1  Devereaux  and  Battle's  Law,  p.  384. 

32  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [348 

his  freedom.  He  lost  the  case.  It  was  held  that  only  the 
master  could  emancipate  and  that  the  Court  only  gave  per- 
mission to  emancipate. 

The  harshness  of  the  law  led  to  various  subterfuges  in 
regard  to  emancipation.  It  was  attempted  to  hold  slaves 
in  nominal  servitude,  but  in  real  freedom.  This  was  opposed 
for  the  general  reason  that  it  increased  the  free  negro  class 
and  whenever  a  case  involving  such  a  trick  came  before  the 
Supreme  Court  it  was  severely  handled.  A  case  in  point 
was  that  of  the  Quakers,  which  arose  as  follows :  In  1817 
William  Dickinson  conveyed  a  slave  to  the  trustees  of  the 
Quaker  society  of  Contentnea,  to  be  held  in  a  kind  of 
guardianship,  to  be  kept  at  work  but  to  receive  the  profits 
of  his  labor,  and  ultimately  to  be  free  when  his  freedom 
could  be  effected  by  the  laws  of  the  State.  In  1827  the 
matter  was  before  the  Supreme  Court.  It  was  in  evidence 
that  nothing  was  said  about  sending  the  slave  out  of  the 
State  when  he  should  be  freed.  On  the  contrary  it  seemed 
to  be  the  purpose  of  the  parties  to  keep  him  in  the  State 
till  free,  and  then  to  let  him  go  where  he  would.  The 
opinion  was  by  Taylor,  Chief  Justice.  He  declared  that  the 
practice  of  the  Quakers  was  emancipation  in  everything  but 
name.  By  statute  a  religious  society  could  hold  property 
for  its  use  only,  and  in  a  conveyance  to  it  for  a  purpose 
forbidden  by  the  policy  of  the  laws  nothing  was  passed. 
That  the  Quakers  did  not  hold  this  slave,  or  other  slaves,  for 
their  own  use  was  shown  by  the  fact  that  slaveholding  was 
against  their  well-known  principles.  Justice  Hall  dissented. 
He  thought  a  religious  society  might  hold  personal 
property  unlimitedly  and  seems  not  to  have  approved  of  the 
law  which  fixed  such  stringent  measures  against  emanci- 
pation.1 Regardless  of  this  decision,  as  will  be  seen  later  on, 
the  Quakers,  as  a  society,  continued  to  hold  slaves  for  pur- 
poses of  emancipation. 

A  case  not  unlike  this  occurred  in  1822,  when  Collier 
Hill  left  slaves  to  four  trustees,  one  of  whom  was  "Richard 

Contentnea  Society  vs.  Dickinson,  1  Devereaux,  p.  189. 

349]  Free  Negroes  and  Emancipation.  33 

Graves,  of  the  Methodist  Church,"  with  the  injunction  to 
keep  the  said  slaves  for  such  purposes  as  "they  [the  trus- 
tees] shall  judge  most  for  the  glory  of  God  and  the  good  of 
the  said  slaves."  The  case  came  before  the  Supreme  Court, 
and  the  opinion  declared  that  such  a  bequest,  "when  it  could 
be  fairly  collected  from  other  parts  of  the  will  that  the  tes- 
tator did  not  mean  by  the  bequest  any  personal  benefit  to 
the  legatees,  was  held  to  constitute  them  trustees  for  the 
purpose  of  emancipation,"  and  as  such  purpose  was  illegal 
it  was  held  that  the  trustees  take  the  property  in  trust  for 
the  legal  heirs.1 

In  all  these  cases  the  cast-iron  necessity  of  keeping 
slavery  unbendingly  confined  to  its  present  condition,  cut- 
ting off  the  least  tendency  to  amelioration,  is  clearly  seen. 
Slavery  absolute — nothing  short  of  it — and  as  few  free 
negroes  as  possible ;  that  was  the  idea. 

As  time  passed  this  feature  of  the  law  became  harder. 
Most  severe  was  a  case  before  the  Court  in  1849.  The  facts 
were  these.  William  Quarry,  of  Mecklenberg,  conveyed  by 
deed  absolute  to  Peoples  and  others  a  slave  woman  Linney, 
who  was  married  to  a  freeman.  Desiring  that  she  might  con- 
tinue to  live  with  her  husband  he  conveyed  to  the  same 
parties  twelve  acres  of  land  with  a  house  on  it,  presumably 
for  her  use.  No  consideration  was  paid,  although  it 
was  duly  acknowledged.  The  defendants  claimed  that  they 
were  absolute  owners,  that  the  donor  conveyed  the  woman 
and  her  family  to  provide  for  her  comfort  and  to  prevent 
the  division  of  the  family.  They  allowed  the  husband  to 
occupy  the  house  with  his  wife  for  a  certain  rent.  They 
took  her  and  her  children  under  their  personal  care  and 
agreed  to  control  their  conduct.  Yet  the  arrangement 
would  not  do  at  all.  It  was,  said  the  Court,  qualified 
slavery,  and  the  conveyance  was  void.  Linney  and  her 
children  were  given  to  the  heirs  of  the  donor,  and,  moreover, 

1  Huckaby  vs.  Jones,  2  Hawks,  p.  720.     See  also  Stephens  vs.  Ely, 
1  Devereaux's  Equity,  p.  497. 

34  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [350 

the  donees  were  held  liable,  "with  just  deductions,"  for  the 
profits  due  from  her  services  while  in  their  hands,  and 
because  the  defendants  had  attempted  to  defraud  the  law 
they  were  to  pay  the  costs.1 

Severe  as  these  cases  seem  the  Court  showed  that  within 
the  range  of  the  fact  that  the  free  negro  class  must  not  be 
extended  they  were  disposed  to  be  as  humane  as  possible. 
In  the  case  of  Redding  vs.  Long,2  a  grantor  had  given  slaves 
in  trust  during  his  lifetime  and  directed  the  trustee  to  send 
them  to  Liberia  after  the  grantor's  death,  if  they  wanted  to 
go.  The  Court  declared  that  this  will  was  not  against  the 
spirit  of  the  laws.  "Though  slaves  have  no  capacity  to  make 
contracts,"  said  the  Court,  "yet  they  have  both  mental  and 
moral  capacity  to  make  election  between  remaining  here 
and  being  slaves,  and  leaving  the  State  and  being  free." 

Free  Negroes. — Slaveholders  disliked  and  feared  free 
negroes  because  they  demoralized  the  quiet  conduct  of  the 
slaves.  These  negroes  were  under  no  direct  control  of  the 
white  man.  They  might  aid  the  slaves  in  planning  a  revolt, 
in  disposing  of  stolen  property,  in  running  away,  and  in  any 
other  act  of  defiance.  Privilege  after  privilege  was  with- 
drawn from  them.  At  first  they  hao.  most  of  the  rights  and 
duties  of  the  poor  white  man ;  they  fought  in  the  Revolu- 
tionary armies,  mustered  in  the  militia,  voted  in  the  elec- 
tions, and  had  the  liberty  to  go  where  they  chose.  At 
length  they  lost  their  right  to  vote;  their  service  in  the 
militia  was  restricted  to  that  of  musicians ;  and  the  patrol 
came  more  and  more  to  limit  their  freedom  of  travel.  Taxes 
and  road  duty  alone  of  all  their  functions  of  citizenship 
were  at  last  preserved.  The  story  of  the  appearance  of  these 
progressive  limitations  is  not  a  pleasant  one. 

It  was  in  1787  (chap.  6)  that  the  Assembly  enacted  that 
no  free  negro  should  entertain  a  slave  at  his  house  at  night 
or  on  Sunday,  on  penalty  of  fine.  If  the  fine  was  not  paid 
the  culprit  was  to  be  hired  out  long  enough  to  pay  it.     The 

1  Lemmond  vs.  Peoples,  6  Iredell's  Equity,  p.  137. 
*4  Jones'  Equity,  p.  216, 

351]  Free  Negroes  and  Emancipation.  35 

same  law  forbade  a  free  negro  to  marry  or  to  cohabit  with 
a  slave  without  the  written  consent  of  the  master,  and  in 
1830  (chap.  4,  sec.  3)  such  relations  were  forbidden  even 
though  the  master  gave  his  written  consent,  and  the  penalty 
for  violation  was  thirty-nine  lashes.1  In  1795  (chap.  16) 
free  negroes  who  settled  in  the  State  were  required  to  give 
bond  of  £200  for  their  good  behavior,  in  default  of  which 
they  were  sold  by  the  sheriff  for  the  benefit  of  the  public. 
In  1826  (chap.  13)  a  free,  negro  was  forbidden  to  be  on  a 
ship  at  night,  or  on  Sunday,  without  a  pass  from  a  justice 
of  the  peace,  unless,  indeed,  he  were  employed  there;  but 
the  punishment  for  a  violation  of  this  law  fell  on  the  captain 
of  the  ship.  Neither  must  a  free  negro  trade  with  a  slave, 
and  a  free  negro  must  have  a  license  from  the  County  Court 
to  hawk  or  peddle.2 

The  collection  of  fines  from  free  negroes  was  often  diffi- 
cult, and  in  183 1  (chap.  13)  the  Legislature  enacted  that 
when  the  Court  had  reason  to  believe  that  a  free  negro 
could  not  pay  the  fine  imposed  upon  him  it  might  direct  that 
he  be  hired  out  to  the  highest  bidder  for  a  time  long  enough 
to  pay  the  fine.  The  bidder  who  bid  the  shortest  time  took 
the  negro.  The  relation  between  hirer  and  hired  was  to  be 
the  same  as  that  between  master  and  apprentice.  A  free 
negro  was  not  to  be  hired  out  in  this  way  for  a  longer  term 
than  five  years.  If  a  longer  term  was  the  lowest  bid  the  fine 
was  to  be  reduced  to  an  amount  which  five  years'  service 
would  satisfy.3  Later  it  was  thought  necessary  to  provide 
that  such  a  free  negro  should  be  well  supplied  with  food, 
clothing,  medicine  and  lodging;  that  he  should  be  kept 
employed  in  some  useful  and  industrious  occupation,  that 
he  should  not  be  taken  from  the  county  during  service,  and 

1  State  vs.  Fore,  1  Iredell,  p.  378. 

2  Laws  of  1830,  chap.  7,  and  1831,  chap.  28. 

3  The  constitutionality  of  this  law  was  questioned  but  it  was  upheld 
by  the  Supreme  Court.  See  State  vs.  Oxendine,  1  Devereaux  and 
Battle,  p.  435,  and  State  vs.  Manuel,  4  Devereaux  and  Battle, 
p.  20. 

36  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [352 

that  he  should  be  produced  in  Court  at  the  end  of  his  ser- 
vice or  oftener,  if  so  ordered  by  the  Court.1 

In  1826  (chap.  21)  the  relation  of  the  free  negro  to  the 
State  was  pretty  thoroughly  restated  by  law.  With  free 
negroes  were  now  to  be  included  all  persons  of  negro  blood 
to  the  fourth  generation  inclusive,  though  one  ancestor  in 
each  generation  may  have  been  white.2  It  was  declared  that 
no  free  negro  should  move  into  the  State ;  and  if  one  did  so 
and  did  not  leave  within  twenty  days  after  being  notified 
of  the  provisions  of  this  law  he  should  be  fined  $500,  or  held 
to  labor  for  ten  years  or  less.  After  paying  such  a  penalty 
he  must  leave  within  thirty  days  or  suffer  a  repetition  of  the 
punishment.  He  who  brought  in  a  free  negro  to  settle  in 
the  State  should  pay  a  fine  of  $500. 3  Any  able-bodied  free 
negro  "found  spending  his  or  her  time  in  idleness  and  dissi- 
pation, or  having  no  regular  or  honest  employment,"  was 
to  be  arrested  and  made  to  give  bond  for  good  behavior,  in 
default  of  which  he  or  she  was  to  be  hired  out  for  such  a 
term  as  the  court  might  think  "reasonable  and  just  and 
calculated  to  reform  him  or  her  to  habits  of  industry  or 
morality,  not  exceeding  three  years  for  any  one  offense." 
Furthermore  the  Courts  might  bind  out  the  children  of  such 
free  negroes  who  were  not  industriously  and  honestly  em- 
ployed. Persons  hiring  free  negroes  under  this  act  were 
required  to  furnish  them  with  proper  food  and  clothing, 
to  treat  them  humanely,  and  to  teach  them  some  trade  or 
other  useful  employment.  In  the  later  days  of  slavery4  the 
hirer  was  to  give  bond  to  perform  this  duty,  and  on  failure 
he  was  to  pay  the  negro  the  amount  of  the  bond,  and  also  to 
lose  his  services  and  be  liable  for  a  misdemeanor.  A  further 
check  was  placed  on  the  number  of  free  negroes  in   1830 

1  Revised  Code,  chap.  107,  sec.  77. 

2  See  State  vs.  Dempsy,  9  Iredell,  p.  384. 

3  It  was  under  the  operation  of  this  law  that  Lunsford  Lane  was 
driven  from  the  State.  Seethe  author's  "Anti-Slavery  Leaders  of 
North  Carolina,"  p.  60. 

*  Revised  Code,  chap.  107,  sec.  77. 

353]  Free  Negroes  and  Emancipation.  37 

(chap.  14)  when  it  was  provided  that  those  who  were 
willingly  absent  from  the  State  for  more  than  ninety  days 
together  should  not  be  allowed  to  return  to  it.  It  was  a 
capital  offense  without  benefit  of  clergy  for  any  person  of 
color  to  rape  a  white  female.1  By  law  of  1830  (chap.  10, 
sec.  2)  a  free  negro  was  forbidden  to  gamble  with  a  slave, 
or  to  allow  a  slave  to  gamble  in  his  house.  A  further 
restraint  came  in  1840  (chap.  30)  when  a  free  negro  was 
forbidden  to  carry  a  gun  or  other  deadly  weapon  without 
license  from  the  County  Court.2  A  free  negro  was  not 
allowed  to  sell  or  to  give  spirituous  liquor  to  any  person  what- 
ever,3 and  if  a  free  negro  were  charged  with  the  support  of  a 
bastard  child,  the  Court  might  order  him  bound  out  for  such 
a  sum  as  would  maintain  the  child.4  Thus  it  will  be  seen 
that  in  regard  to  his  rights  of  conduct  the  free  negro  was 
reduced  more  and  more  to  the  position  of  the  slave. 

The  legal  status  of  the  free  negro  was  peculiar.  Was  he 
a  freeman,  or  was  he  less  than  a  freeman?  The  former 
he  was  by  logical  intent;  yet  he  was  undoubtedly  denied, 
as  has  just  been  stated,  many  rights  which  mark  the  estate 
of  freemen.  At  any  time  in  the  eighteenth  century,  I  sup- 
pose, there  would  have  been  no  question  about  the  free 
negro  being  equally  a  freeman  with  the  whites.  After  the 
severe  laws  of  the  third  and  fourth  decades  of  the  nineteenth 
century  opinion  changed.  It  was  thus  that  it  was  as  late 
as  1844  that  the  Supreme  Court  undertook  to  fix  the  status 
of  free  negroes.  It  then  declared  that  "free  persons  of  color 
in  this  State  are  not  to  be  considered  as  citizens  in  the 
largest  sense  of  the  term,  or  if  they  are,  they  occupy  such 
a  position  as  justifies  the  Legislature  in  adopting  a  course 
of  policy  in  its  acts  peculiar  to  them,  so  that  they  do  not 
violate  the  great  principles  of  justice  which  lie  at  the  founda- 
tion of  all  law."5  This  position  is  further  illustrated  by  the 
opinion  of  the  Court  in  regard  to  the  free  negro's  right  to 

1  Laws  of  1823,  chap.  1229.         2  State  vs.  Lane,  8  Iredell,  p.  256. 
3  Laws  of  1844,  chap.  86.  *  Revised  Code,  chap.  107,  sec.  76. 

6 State  vs.  Newsom,  5  Iredell,  p.  250. 

38  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [354 

defend  himself  against  physical  force.  It  was  held  in  1850 
that  insolence  from  a  free  negro  to  a  white  man  would 
excuse  a  battery  in  the  same  manner  and  to  the  same  extent 
as  insolence  from  a  slave.1  In  1859  the  Court  became  more 
explicit.  It  declared  that  a  free  negro  was  in  the  peace  of 
the  State,  and  added  at  length :  "So  while  the  law  will  not 
allow  a  free  negro  to  return  blow  for  blow  and  engage  in  a 
fight  with  a  white  man  under  ordinary  circumstances,  as 
one  white  man  may  do  with  another  or  one  free  negro  with 
another,  he  is  not  deprived  absolutely  of  the  right  of  self- 
defense,  but  a  middle  course  is  adopted"  by  which  he  must 
prove  "that  it  became  necessary  for  him  to  strike  in  order 
to  protect  himself  from  great  bodily  harm  or  grievous 

More  important  still  is  the  history  of  free  negroes  and 
suffrage.3  The  first  State  Constitution  provided  that  free- 
holders should  vote  for  members  of  the  State  Senate  and 
freemen  for  members  of  the  House  of  Commons.  By  stat- 
ute a  freeholder  was  one  who  owned  in  fee  or  for  life  fifty 
acres  of  land.  When  the  Constitution  began  to  operate  it 
was  a  day  of  strenuous  danger.  Free  negroes  were  enlisted 
in  the  patriot  armies,  and  discharged  the  other  burdens  of 
government.  They  were  admitted  also  to  the  privileges  of 
citizenship.  Negro  freemen  voted  for  members  of  the  Com- 
mons and  when  they  were  freeholders  they  voted  for  mem- 
bers of  the  Senate.  Having  formed  political  alliances  they 
found  protectors  in  their  party  allies,  and,  eventually,  foes  in 
their  party  opponents.  As  they  became  more  and  more  the 
object  of  suspicion  there  was  a  stronger  demand  for  their 
disfranchisement.  In  some  localities  they  ceased  to  vote  at 
all.  This  was  probably  where  the  political  party  with  which 
they  affiliated  was  in  the  minority.  In  many  com- 
munities they  voted  and  were  protected  by  their  friends. 

1  State  vs.  Jowers,  11  Iredell,  p.  535. 

2  State  vs.  Davis,  7  Jones,  p.  52. 

3  See  the  author's  paper  on  "  Suffrage  in  North  Carolina,"  Report 
of  the  American  Historical  Association,  1895,  pp.  272-3. 

355]  Free  Negroes  and  Emancipation.  39 

Of  course,  where  they  did  not  vote  it  was  through  their  own 
will — whether  it  was  influenced  by  choice  or  by  fear  of  the 
whites.  Unquestionably,  they  were  not  a  desirable  class  of 
voters.  In  Granville  County,  it  is  said,  they  lost  the  favor 
of  the  people  because  they  persistently  voted  for  one  Potter, 
a  demagogue  of  plausible  speech,  who  had  not  the  respect  of 
the  best  whites.  At  length  it  came  to  be  regarded  as  a  blot 
on  a  man's  political  record  to  have  the  support  of  the  free 
negroes.  It  was  not  unusual  for  candidates  to  twit  one 
another  with  such  support  and  for  the  one  to  reply  that  he 
would  give  up  the  negro  vote  if  the  other  would  do  the 

In  the  triumph  of  the  pro-slavery  views,  about  1830,  the 
free  negro  was  destined  to  lose  the  franchise.  The  matter 
came  to  a  head  in  the  Constitutional  Convention  of  1835. 
Already  a  law  had  been  passed  to  forbid  the  free  negro  to 
hold  office  in  the  State.  I  do  not  know  just  how  the  act 
which  called  the  Constitutional  Convention  came  to  include 
in  the  objects  of  the  convention  the  consideration  of  the  dis- 
franchisement of  free  negroes.  Perhaps  it  was  a  compro- 
mise wrung  from  the  men  of  the  West  by  those  of  the  East 
in  order  to  get  popular  representation.  Its  consideration 
was  made  optional.  There  were  many  friends  of  the  black 
man  in  the  convention,  but  the  majority  was  against  him. 
Realizing  their  position  they  tried  to  secure  a  law  which 
would  save  the  franchise  to  the  more  industrious  and  intelli- 
gent of  the  free  negroes.  It  was  therefore  proposed  to 
limit  the  right  to  vote  to  such  of  this  class  as  had  a  freehold 
estate  worth  $250.  The  debate  on  this  proposition  was 
long.  It  was  argued  by  the  affirmative  that  this  would  be 
an  incentive  to  the  thrift  and  good  conduct  of  the  free 
negroes ;  that  it  would  make  the  better  men  in  that  class 
friends  of  the  whites  in  case  of  slave  riot ;  that  many  free 
negroes  had   fought  in  the   Revolution;  that  they   usually 

1  See  David  Dodge:  "The  Free  Negroes  of  North  Carolina,"  The 
Atlantic,  Jan.,  1886.  David  Dodge  is  O.  W.  Blacknall,  Esq.,  Kit- 
trels,  N.  C. 

40  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [356 

voted  for  good  men  when  they  voted,  and  that  if  they  were 
taxed  they  ought  to  vote.  It  was  admitted  that  the  bill  of 
rights  was  intended  to  apply  to  white  men  only ;  but,  it  was 
said,  expediency  demanded  the  present  concession.  It  was 
not  denied  that  the  prejudice  against  these  people  was  justi- 
fied by  the  unworthiness  of  many  of  them ;  but  the  whites 
were  largely  responsible ;  for,  it  was  added,  "the  whites  are 
the  principal  corrupters  of  the  morals  of  these  people."  Mr. 
Shober,  of  Surry,  an  extremely  western  county,  was  more 
outspoken.  He  said  that  it  was  sufficient  for  him  that  a 
free  negro  was  a  human  being,  that  he  had  a  will  and  was 
a  free  agent.  If  held  liable  for  taxes  and  other  burdens  he 
ought  to  have  some  privileges.  Said  Mr.  Giles :  "It  was 
charged  that  the  vote  of  the  free  negro  could  be  purchased — 
purchased  by  whom?  Undoubtedly  by  white  men.  The 
Legislature  had  been  remiss  in  its  duty  to  the  free  negroes. 
Instead  of  improving  their  situation  they  appear  to  have 
acted  on  a  principle  of  hostility  toward  them."  The  con- 
vention ought  to  do  something  to  raise  them  from  their 
degradation.  Judge  Gaston  also  spoke  for  the  negro. 
After  Macon  he  was  the  most  distingished  man  in  the  con- 
vention. The  question,  said  he,  was  not  the  giving  of  a 
right  but  the  taking  of  one  away.  He  was  willing  to 
restrict  the  right  of  suffrage ;  but  those  free  negroes  who 
possessed  freeholds  were  honest  men  and  perhaps  Christians 
and  they  should  not  be  politically  excommunicated  on 
account  of  their  color.  "Let  them  know  that  they  are  part 
of  the  body  politic,  and  they  will  feel  an  attachment  to  the 
form  of  government,  and  have  a  fixed  interest  in  the  pros- 
perity of  the  community,  and  will  exercise  an  important 
influence  over  the  slaves." 

On  the  other  hand,  it  was  argued  that  a  free  negro  was 
not  a  citizen,  and  that  if  he  had  ever  voted  it  was  illegally. 
Being  called  freemen  in  the  abstract  did  not  confer  on  them 
the  dignity  of  citizenship.  Fighting  in  the  Revolution  did 
not  make  them  citizens  any  more  than  it  made  citizens  of 
the  slaves,  many  of  whom  fought  in  the  Revolution.  The 

357]  Free  Negroes  and  Emancipation.  41 

lot  of  the  free  negro  was  not  a  hard  one.  "It  far  surpassed 
the  nondescript  situation  of  the  ancient  Helots  and  villeins, 
or  the  ignoble  condition  of  the  oppressed  peasants  of 
Poland."  A  slave  was  not  a  citizen.  When  was  a  freed 
slave  naturalized?  And  until  naturalized  could  he  be  a 
citizen?  Citizens  of  one  State  have  privileges  of  citi- 
zens in  the  other  States,  and  yet  North  Carolina  severely 
restricted  their  coming  to  its  borders,  thus  implying  that 
they  were  not  citizens.  It  was  granted  that  the  better  class 
would  suffer  hardship  in  losing  the  right  of  suffrage,  yet 
the  interest  of  a  few  must  yield  to  the  general  good. 
Although,  it  was  said,  free  negroes  voted  elsewhere  in  the 
State,  yet  the  privilege  was  not  allowed  to  those  in  the  east- 
ern counties,  and  they  had  accepted  the  restriction  "with 
cheerfulness  and  contentment."  The  cold  logic  of  the 
views  of  the  majority  was  stated  by  Mr.  Bryan,  of  Carteret, 
as  follows : 

"This  is,  to  my  mind,  a  nation  of  white  people,  and  the 
enjoyment  of  all  civil  and  social  rights  by  a  distinctive  class 
of  individuals  is  purely  permissive,  and  unless  there  be  a 
perfect  equality  in  every  respect  it  cannot  be  demanded  as  a 
right.  *  *  *  It  may  be  urged  that  this  is  a  harsh  and 
cruel  doctrine,  and  unjust,  and  by  no  means  reciprocal  in 
its  operation.  I  do  not  acknowledge  any  equality  between 
the  white  man  and  the  free  negro  in  the  enjoyment  of  politi- 
cal rights.  The  free  negro  is  a  citizen  of  necessity  and 
must,  as  long  as  he  abides  among  us,  submit  to  the  laws 
which  necessity  and  the  peculiarity  of  his  position  compel  us 
to  adopt." 

Mr.  McQueen,  of  Chatham,  continued  the  argument :  The 
Government  of  North  Carolina  did  not  make  the  negro  a 
slave,  said  he.  It  gave  the  boon  of  freedom,  but-  did  that 
carry  the  further  boon  of  citizenship?  "Is  there  any  solid 
ground  for  the  belief  that  a  free  mulatto  can  have  any  per- 
manent interest  with,  and  attachment  to,  this  country?  He 
finds  the  door  of  office  closed  against  him  by  the  bars  and 
bolts  of    public    sentiment;    he    finds    the    circle    of   every 

42  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [358 

respectable  society  closed  against  him ;  let  him  conduct 
himself  with  as  much  propriety  as  he  may,  he  finds  himself 
suspended  between  two  classes  of  society — the  whites  and 
the  blacks — condemned  by  the  one  and  despised  by  the 
other;  and  when  his  favorite  candidate  in  the  election  pre- 
vails, it  communicates  no  gratification  in  his  breast,  for  the 
candidate  will  be  a  white  man,  and  he  knows  full  well  that 
the  white  man  eyes  him  with  contempt."  More  relentless  still 
was  Mr.  Wilson,  of  Perquimons.  He  said :  "A  white  man 
may  go  to  the  house  of  a  free  black,  maltreat  and  abuse  him, 
and  commit  any  outrage  upon  his  family,  for  all  of  which  the 
law  cannot  reach  him,  unless  some  white  person  saw  the  act 
committed — some  fifty  years  of  experience  having  satisfied 
the  Legislature  that  the  black  man  does  not  possess  sufficient 
intelligence  and  integrity  to  be  intrusted  with  the  important 
privilege  of  giving  evidence  against  a  white  man.  And  after 
all  this  shall  we  invest  him  with  the  more  important  rights  of 
a  freeman?" 

After  the  discussion  had  continued  two  days,  the  matter 
was  carried  against  the  free  negro  by  a  vote  of  65  to  62. 
It  was  the  strongly  slaveholding  East  that  carried  the  vote ; 
for,  of  the  majority,  47  votes  were  eastern  and  18  were  west- 
ern, while  of  the  minority  40  were  western  and  22  eastern. 
The  amendment  to  the  Constitution  as  finally  adopted  read : 
"No  free  negro,  free  mulatto,  or  free  person  of  mixed  blood, 
descended  from  negro  ancestors  to  the  fourth  generation 
inclusive  (though  one  ancestor  of  each  generation  may  have 
been  a  white  person)  shall  vote  for  members  of  the  Senate 
or  House  of  Commons." 

There  were  more  free  negroes  in  North  Carolina  in  i860 
than  in  any  other  State  except  Virginia.  Rigorous  as  they 
were  the  North  Carolina  laws  against  these  people  were 
more  lenient  than  the  laws  of  Virginia  or  of  any  other  State. 
Consequently  many  free  negroes  quietly  crossed  into  the 
former  State  and  settled  there  undisturbed  in  the  northern 
or  southern  counties.  They  took  the  poorest  land.  Usu- 
ally they  rented  a  few  acres ;  often  they  bought  a   small 

359]  Free  Negroes  and  Emancipation.  43 

"patch,"  and  on  it  dwelt  in  log  huts  of  the  rudest  construc- 
tion. In  either  case  they  supplemented  their  resources  by 
following  some  simple  trade.  They  were  well-diggers, 
shoemakers,  blacksmiths,  fiddlers,  hucksters,  pedlers,  and 
so  forth.  Besides,  they  were  easily  called  in  to  help  the 
whites  on  occasions  of  need.  There  were  a  very  few  who 
accumulated  money  and  some  of  these  became  slave-owners. 
Although  it  was  against  the  law  for  them  to  come  into  the 
State,  their  arrival  was  tolerated  both  because  the  law  was 
recognized  as  severe  and  because  their  services  were  wanted 
in  the  community.  Many  of  them  had  Indian  blood  in 
their  veins,  and  when  such  was  the  case  they  were  a  little 
distant  towards  the  slaves.  Unambitious,  often  immoral, 
they  were  of  the  least  value  to  society,  which,  indeed,  offered 
them  no  inducement  to  be  better  than  they  were.  They 
usually  were  on  terms  of  friendship  with  that  other  class 
of  incompetents,  the  "poor  whites."  Sometimes  these  two 
classes  lived  on  terms  of  sexual  intimacy.  In  Granville 
County  there  was  a  pretty  well  authenticated  story  of  a  white 
woman  who  had  her  colored  lover  bled  and  drank  some  of 
the  blood  so  that  she  might  swear  she  had  negro  blood  in 
her  and  thus  be  enabled  to  marry  the  object  of  her  affection. 
She  succeeded  in  her  purpose  and  the  couple  lived  to  rear 
a  family  of  children.1  I  have  been  speaking  of  free  negroes 
who  lived  in  the  country  districts.  In  towns  they  fared 
better  and  accumulated  wealth. 

Regardless  of  the  severe  laws  there  were  not  a  few  free 
negroes  who  acquired  wealth  and  consideration.  Of  th's 
class  were  notably  Rev.  John  Chavis,  Lunsford  Lane  and 
John  C.  Stanley.  The  first  of  these  will  be  noticed  in 
another  chapter,  the  second  has  been  treated  by  the  author 
with  much  fulness  elsewhere,2  and  here  I  shall  speak  of  the 
third  only. 

'David  Dodge  [O.  W.  Blacknall]  in  The  At/atitic  Monthly,  Jan., 
"'Anti-slavery  Leaders  of  North  Carolina,''  p.  60. 

44  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [360 

John  C.  Stanley  was  a  mulatto,  the  son  of  an  African 
born  slave  woman,  who  was  brought  to  Newbern,  N.  C. 
(from  the  West  Indies),  before  the  Revolutionary  War.  He 
was  a  barber  by  trade  and  throughout  his  days  of  manhood 
was  known  as  "Barber  Jack."  He  was  a  faithful  servant, 
and  in  1808  he  was  liberated  by  the  General  Assembly  on 
petition  of  Mrs.  Lydia  Stewart,  into  whose  possession  he  had 
come.  He  soon  began  to  acquire  negro  slaves  and  land 
till  at  length  he  had  sixty-four  slaves  and  as  many  more 
bound  free  negroes  working  his  several  plantations.  Says 
Col.  John  D.  Whitford :  "He  was  popular,  too,  with  both 
slave  and  free  negroes  generally,  notwithstanding  he  was  a 
hard  taskmaster.  Yes,  he  worked  all  well  and  fed  and 
clothed  indifferently."1  He  married  a  moor,  a  copper  col- 
ored woman  who  was  not  a  slave.  He  got  his  start  in  the 
barber  business — although  he  made  much  of  his  money  by 
discounting  notes.  Certain  white  men  of  means  who  did 
not  care  to  go  openly  into  the  business  of  sharp  discounting, 
took  him  for  a  partner  and  furnished  the  means.  He  had 
three  sons,  John,  Alexander  and  Charles.  John  became  an 
expert  bookkeeper  and  was  employed  in  that  capacity  by 
a  prominent  firm.  John  C.  Stanley  amassed  a  fortune  sup- 
posed to  be  worth  more  than  $40,000 ;  but  in  his  old  age  he 
lost  much  of  it  by  bad  management.  His  family  held  them- 
selves aloof  from  the  other  negroes  of  the  community.  They 
were  members  of  the  Presbyterian  Church,  to  which  Mrs. 
Stewart,  his  former  mistress,  had  belonged.  This  lady  lived 
till  1822,  and  when  old  and  feeble  could  be  seen  on  the 
streets  in  fine  weather  supported  on  the  arm  of  her  faithful 
old  servant — now  fourteen  years  a  freeman.  Thus  she  took 
the  air  and  thus  she  went  to  church  on  Sunday.  When  the 
couple  had  arrived  at  the  church,  John  would  conduct  her  to 

^ee  Raleigh,  N.  C,  Morning  Post,  Dec.  5,  1897.  Other  facts 
not  mentioned  by  Col.  Whitford  are  from  statements  made  to  the 
writer  by  Maj.  D.  W.  Hurt,  Goldsboro,  N.  C. 

361]  Free  Negroes  and  Emancipation.  45 

her  pew  and  then  leave  her  to  take  his  seat  with  his  own 
family  in  the  place  assigned  to  colored  people. 

Many  of  the  free  negroes  were  in  circumstances  of  inde- 
pendent thrift,  and  from  many  parts  of  the  State  I  have  had 
evidence  that  some  negroes  were  slaveholders.  In  New- 
bern  especially  there  were  a  number  of  such  thrifty  colored 
men.  Notable  among  these  was  John  Good.  He  was  a  son 
of  his  master  and  for  a  long  time  a  slave.  When  the  master 
died,  his  two  surviving  children,  who  were  daughters,  had 
but  little  property  besides  this  boy,  John,  who  was  a  barber. 
John  took  up  the  task  of  supporting  them.  He  boarded  them 
in  good  houses  and  otherwise  provided  for  them  well.  His 
faithfulness  won  him  many  friends  among  the  best  citizens, 
and  when  both  of  his  mistresses  were  married  these  friends 
united  to  persuade  the  owners  to  liberate  him  as  a  reward 
for  his  services.  Unfortunately,  freedom  proved  no  boon. 
He  fell  into  bad  habits,  took  to  drink  and  soon  died.  There 
were  other  thrifty  and  notable  free  negroes  in  the  same 
place,  as,  for  example,  John  Y.  Green,  a  carpenter  and  con- 
tractor ;  Richard  Hazel,  a  blacksmith  of  means  ;  Albert  and 
Freeman  Morris,  described  as  two  "nice  young  men,"  and 
thoroughly  respected,  tailors  by  trade ;  and  Scipio,  slave  of 
Dr.  Hughes,  who  was  a  blacksmith  and  owner  of  a  livery 
stable.  Another  was  Fellow  Bragg,  a  tailor  who  was  thor- 
oughly conscientious  and  so  good  a  workman  that  promi- 
nent people  were  known  to  move  their  custom  to  the  shops 
at  which  he  was  employed  in  order  that  he  might  work  on 
it.  Most  of  these  men  moved  to  Cincinnati  sooner  or  later. 
What  became  of  them  after  that  I  do  not  know.1  The  con- 
ditions here  recorded  for  Newbern  were  not  unusual  for 
North  Carolina  towns  in  general.  Everywhere  there  were 
usually  a  number  of  prosperous  free  negroes.  Most  of  them 
were  mulattoes,  not  a  few  of  them  were  set  free  by  their 
fathers  and  thus  they  fell  easily  into  the  life  around  them. 

xThe  facts  in  this  paragraph  are  from  Maj.  D.  W.  Hurt,  formerly 
of  Newbern,  but  now  of  Goldsboro,  N.  C. 

46  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [362 

This  mulatto  class  was  partly  due  to  the  easy  sexual  rela- 
tions between  the  races.  A  white  man  who  kept  a  negro 
mistress  ordinarily  lost  no  standing  in  society  on  account  of 
it.  The  habit,  though  not  common,  was  not  unusual.  Often 
the  mistress  was  a  slave,  and  thus  there  were  frequent  eman- 
cipations either  by  gift  or  by  purchase  of  liberty,  till  the 
stricter  spirit  of  the  laws  after  1831  checked  it. 



I  have  already  said  that  the  central  idea  of  slavery  in 
North  Carolina  was  a  determination  to  perpetuate  the  insti- 
tution, whatever  the  price,  and  at  the  same  time  a  disposi- 
tion to  make  it  as  gentle  as  possible  for  the  slave,  pro- 
vided that  doing  so  did  not  tend  to  loosen  his  bonds.  This 
same  idea  is  found  in  the  master's  regulation  of  the  religious 
life  of  the  slave.  Without  question  he  was  willing  to  make 
the  slave  a  Christian.  He  was  anxious  to  do  it.  He  spent 
money  with  more  or  less  bountifulness  to  do  it.  This  was 
sometimes  done  by  men  who  were  not  Christians  them- 
selves, but  who  wanted  their  slaves  to  be  Christians  for  the 
purposes  of  discipline ;  but  oftener  it  was  done  out  of  pure 
benevolence,  and  with  a  devout  purpose  to  accomplish  the 
spiritual  welfare  of  the  negro.  Persons  who  have  formed 
their  opinions  of  Southern  society  from  the  popular  works 
of  certain  novelists  are  apt  to  think  of  the  slave-owner  as 
a  fine-bred  gentleman  of  cavalier  instincts  and  patriarchal 
feelings.  Such  an  estimate  is  but  half  true.  There  was  in 
the  South — in  North  Carolina  it  was  very  strong — a  large 
class  of  slave-owners  who  approached  more  nearly  to  the 
English  farmer  type  than  to  the  English  gentleman  type. 
They  were  usually  self-made  men,  of  fair  intelligence,  and 
of  some  education.  They  were  generally  thrifty  and  often 
wealthy.  The  majority  of  them  were  Christians,  mostly 
of  the  Methodist,  Baptist  and  Presbyterian  Churches.  This 
class  of  men  has  received  but  little  attention  from  those  who 
have  written  of  Southern  society,  and  yet  it  was  the  back- 
bone of  that  society.  There  was  little  that  was  ideal  about 
such  men.     They  were  humdrum,  but  they  were  honest, 


48  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [364 

pious  and  substantial,  and  they  were  numerous.  Such  peo- 
ple are  to  be  compared,  not  only  in  wealth,  but  in  general 
social  development  as  well,  with  the  upper  farmer  class  in 
the  North  and  West.  I  do  not  mean  to  say  that  they  were 
all  of  the  South.  The  planter  class,  in  the  ordinary  use  of 
the  term,  was  there,  and  it  was  the  governing  class  and  the 
class  that  touched  the  outside  world.  It  went  to  summer 
resorts,  and  to  Congress,  and  to  political  conventions,  and  it 
got  into  novels,  and  sometimes  into  history,  and  it  was  usu- 
ally benignly  patriarchal,  but  the  farmer  class  as  a  class  came 
closer  into  touch  with  the  slave  and  in  a  hundred  ways  soft- 
ened the  harshness  of  an  institution  which  no  one  knew 
how  to  modify  in  law. 

It  was,  indeed,  in  a  harsh  spirit  that  the  law  came  at  last 
to  regulate  the  religious  relations  of  the  slave.  In  the  begin- 
ning, when  the  slaves  wTere  just  from  barbarism  and  free- 
dom, it  was  thought  best  to  forbid  them  to  have  churches 
of  their  own.  But  as  they  became  more  manageable,  this 
restriction  was  omitted  from  the  law1  and  the  churches 
went  on  with  their  work  among  the  slaves.  A  large  num- 
ber of  negroes  were  converted  and  taken  into  church  mem- 
bership, some  of  the  more  intelligent  negroes  were  taught 
to  read  and  were  licensed  to  preach.  Some  churches  made 
a  specialty  of  work  among  the  slaves.  Often  negro  preach- 
ers held  services  with  their  own  race  and  sometimes  estab- 
lished separate  congregations,  though  the  latter  was  not 
the  rule.  The  advantage  of  this  system  was  that  it  was 
developing  the  negro  into  self-dependence  religiously,  but 
doing  it  under  the  intimate  oversight  of  the  whites  among 
whom  he  was  interspersed.  Never  before  or  since  was  the 
relation  between  the  negro  and  his  white  neighbors  so  aus- 
picious. The  change  came  openly  in  1830,  when  a  law  was 
passed  by  the  General  Assembly  which  destroyed  the  hopes 
of  all  those  who  were  favorable  to  this  movement.  It  was 
enacted  that  no  free  person  or  slave  should  teach  a  slave 

JSee  the  author's  "Slavery  and  Servitude,"  p.  50. 

365]  Religious  Life.  49 

to  read  or  write,  the  use  of  figures  excepted,  or  give  to  a 
slave  any  book  or  pamphlet.1  This  law  was  no  doubt 
intended  to  meet  the  danger  from  the  circulation  of  incen- 
diary literature,  which  was  believed  to  be  imminent;  yet 
it  is  no  less  true  that  it  bore  directly  on  the  slave's  religious 
life.  It  cut  him  off  from  the  reading  of  the  Bible — a  point 
much  insisted  on  by  the  agitators  of  the  North — and  it  fore- 
stalled that  mental  development  which  was  necessary  to 
him  in  comprehending  the  Christian  life.  The  only  argu- 
ment made  for  this  law  was  that  if  a  slave  could  read  he 
would  soon  become  acquainted  with  his  rights.  Caruthers 
thought  it  a  shame  that  a  Christian  people  would  make  such 
arguments.  "How  dare  you,"  he  exclaims,  "by  your 
impious  enactments  doom  millions  of  your  fellow-beings  to 
such  a  gross  and  perpetual  ignorance  !"2  A  year  later  a 
severer  blow  fell.  The  Legislature  then  forbade  any  slave 
or  free  person  of  color  to  preach,  exhort,  or  teach  "in  any 
prayer-meeting  or  other  association  for  worship  where 
slaves  of  different  families  are  collected  together"  on  penalty 
of  receiving  not  more  than  thirty-nine  lashes.3  The  result 
was  to  increase  the  responsibility  of  the  churches  of  the 
whites.  They  were  compelled  to  abandon  the  hope  of  see- 
ing the  negro  made  his  own  evangel  and  to  take  on  them- 
selves the  task  of  handing  down  to  the  slaves  religious 
instruction  in  such  a  way  that  it  should  be  comprehended 
by  their  immature  minds  and  should  not  be  too  strongly 
flavored  with  the  bitterness  of  bondage.  With  the  mandate 
of  the  Legislature  the  churches  acquiesced. 

As  to  the  preaching"  of  the  dominant  class  to  the  slaves 
it  always  had  one  element  of  disadvantage.  It  seemed  to 
the  negro  to  be  given  with  a  view  to  upholding  slavery.  As 
an  illustration  of  this  I  may  introduce  the  testimony  of 

1  Revised  Statutes,  pp.  209,  578,  and  Revised  Code,  p.  218. 

2 See  the  unpublished  manuscript  of  E.  W.  Caruthers's  book  on 
"Slavery,"  p.  396.  It  is  preserved  in  the  library  of  Greensboro 
Female  College,  Greensboro,  N.  C. 

3  Revised  Statutes,  p.  580,  and  Revised  Code,  p.  576. 

50  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [366 

Lunsford  Lane.  This  slave  was  the  property  of  a  prominent 
and  highly  esteemed  citizen  of  Raleigh,  N.  C.  He  hired 
his  own  time  and  with  his  father  manufactured  smoking 
tobacco  by  a  secret  process.  His  business  grew  and  at 
length  he  bought  his  own  freedom.  Later,  he  opened  a 
wood  yard,  a  grocery  store  and  kept  teams  for  hauling. 
He  at  last  bought  his  own  home,  and  had  bargained  to  buy 
his  wife  and  children  for  $2500,  when  the  rigors  of  the  law 
were  applied  and  he  was  driven  from  the  State.  He  was 
intelligent  enough  to  get  a  clear  view  of  slavery  from  the 
slave's  standpoint.  He  was  later  a  minister,  and  undoubt- 
edly had  the  confidence  and  esteem  of  some  of  the  leading 
people  of  Raleigh,  among  whom  was  Governor  Morehead. 
He  is  a  competent  witness  for  the  negro.  In  speaking  of 
the  sermons  from  white  preachers  he  said  that  the  favorite 
texts  were  "Servants,  be  obedient  to  your  masters,"  and 
"he  that  knoweth  his  master's  will  and  doth  it  not  shall 
be  beaten  with  many  stripes."  He  adds,  "Similar  passages 
with  but  few  exceptions  formed  the  basis  of  most  of  the 
public  instruction.  The  first  commandment  was  to  obey 
our  masters,  and  the  second  was  like  unto  it ;  to  labor  as 
faithfully  when  they  or  the  overseers  were  not  watching 
as  when  they  were.  I  will  not  do  them  the  injustice  to  say 
that  connected  with  this  instruction  there  was  not  mingled 
much  that  was  excellent."  All  this  was  natural.  To  be  a 
slave  was  the  fundamental  fact  of  the  negro's  life.  To  be 
a  good  slave  was  to  obey  and  to  labor.  Not  to  obey  and  not 
to  labor  were,  in  the  master's  eye,  the  fundamental  sins  of  a 
slave.  Such  a  condition  was  inherent  in  slavery.  On  the 
other  hand,  many  of  the  more  independent  negroes,  those 
who  in  their  hearts  never  accepted  the  institution  of  slavery, 
were  repelled  from  the  white  man's  religion,  and  thus  the 
support  of  a  very  valuable  portion  of  the  race  was  lost. 
This  condition  of  affairs  was  not  to  be  entirely  remedied 
by  having  negro  preachers  ;  but  it  might  have  been  amelior- 
ated by  it,  and  if,  in  the  long  course  of  time,  the  church 
work  among  the  slaves  could  have  been  done  entirely  by 

367]  Religious  Life.  51 

negro  preachers  acting  under  white  supervision  the  salva- 
tion of  the  slave  would  have  been  very  near  its  accomplish- 

As  it  was,  it  is  no  doubt  true  that  many  slaves  were 
reached  by  religious  influences.  Through  the  teachings  of 
the  church  many  were  enabled  to  bend  in  meekness  under 
their  bondage  and  be  content  with  a  hopeless  lot.  There 
are  whites  to  whom  Christianity  is  still  chiefly  a  burden- 
bearing  affair.  Such  quietism  has  a  negative  value.  It 
saves  men  from  discontent  and  society  from  chaos.  But 
it  has  little  positive  and  constructive  value.  The  idea  of 
social  reform  which  is  also  associated  with  the  standard  of 
Christian  duty  was  not  for  the  slave.  Those  very  few  who, 
like  Lunsford  Lane,  did  work  themselves  heroically  to  free- 
dom were  acting  on  principles  not  usually  preached  from 
the  pulpit  in  the  latter  part  of  our  period. 

How  a  slave  looked  at  the  religion  that  was  brought  to 
him  may  be  seen  from  the  following  words  of  Lunsford 
Lane,  who  seems  to  have  been  a  consistent  Christian : 

I  was  permitted  to  attend  church,  and  this  I  esteem  a  great  bless- 
ing. It  was  there  I  received  much  instruction,  which  I  trust  was  a 
great  benefit  to  me.  I  trusted,  too,  that  I  had  experienced  the  renew- 
ing influences  of  divine  grace.  I  looked  upon  myself  as  a  great  sin- 
ner before  God,  and  upon  the  doctrine  of  the  great  atonement, 
through  the  suffering  and  death  of  the  Saviour,  as  a  source  of  continual 
joy  to  my  heart.  After  obtaining  from  my  mistress  a  written  permit, 
a  thing  always  required  in  such  cases,  I  had  been  baptized  and 
received  into  fellowship  with  the  Baptist  denomination.  Thus  in 
religious  matters  I  had  been  indulged  in  the  exercise  of  my  own 
conscience;  this  was  a  favor  not  always  granted  to  slaves.  There, 
was  one  hard  doctrine  to  which  we  as  slaves  were  compelled  to  listen, 
which  I  found  difficult  to  receive.  We  were  often  told  by  the  minis- 
ter how  much  we  owed  to  God  for  bringing  us  over  from  the  benighted 
shores  of  Africa  and  permitting  us  to  listen  to  the  sound  of  the  gos- 
pel. In  ignorance  of  any  special  revelation  that  God  had  made  to 
master,  or  to  his  ancestors,  that  my  ancestors  should  be  stolen  and 
enslaved  on  the  soil  of  America  to  accomplish  their  salvation,  I  was 
slow  to  believe  all  my  teachers  enjoined  on  this  subject.  How  sur- 
prising, then,  this  high  moral  end  being  accomplished,  that  no  proc- 
lamation of  emancipation  had  before  this  been  made  !     Many  of  us 

52  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [368 

were  as  highly  civilized  as  some  of  our  masters,  and,  as  to  piety,  in  many 
instances  their  superiors.  I  was  rather  disposed  to  believe  that  God  had 
originally  granted  me  temporal  freedom,  which  wicked  men  had 
forcibly  taken  from  me — which  now  I  had  been  compelled  to  pur- 
chase at  great  cost.  *  *  *  There  was  one  very  kind-hearted  cler- 
gyman whom  I  used  often  to  hear;  he  was  very  popular  with  the  col- 
ored people.  But  after  he  had  preached  a  sermon  to  us  in  which  he 
urged  from  the  Bible  that  it  was  the  will  of  Heaven  from  all  eternity 
that  we  should  be  slaves,  and  our  masters  be  our  owners,  many  of 
us  left  him,  considering,  like  the  doubting  disciple  of  old,  "This  is  a 
hard  saying,  who  can  hear  it  P"1 

Dr.  Caruthers,  whose  long  pastorate  in  Guilford  ought 
to  have  given  him  good  grounds  for  speaking,  said  that 
slaves  knew  little  of  the  Bible,  except  as  they  picked  it  up 
from  others,  "and  that  little,"  he  adds,  "they  don't  know  half 
their  time  whether  to  believe  or  disbelieve.  It  is  often  said 
that  many  of  them  become  very  pious  people,  and  although 
we  can't  know  the  heart,  charity  would  lead  us  to  believe  or 
hope  so ;  but  no  thanks  to  slavery  or  the  slave  laws."  It  was 
the  Lord's  work.  The  negroes  who  were  spoken  of  as  pious, 
said  he,  did  not  have  "those  enlarged  views  or  that  expan- 
sion of  soul  which  is  always  imparted  by  scriptural  and 
enlightened  sentiments  of  immortality."2 

All  the  churches  of  North  Carolina,  so  far  as  I  have  been 
able  to  ascertain,  received  freely  negro  members.  Every 
church  had  its  space  reserved  for  negroes.  It  was  almost 
invariably  in  the  gallery,  if  there  was  one,  or  in  the  back  of 
the  church,  if  there  was  no  gallery.  In  the  ceremony  of  the 
Lord's  Supper,  after  the  whites  had  partaken,  the  sacra- 
ment was  administered  to  the  negro  members.  In  many 
churches,  particularly  of  Methodist  and  Baptist  denomina- 
tions, which  had  often  many  colored  communicants,  there 
was  a  special  service  in  the  afternoon  by  the  white  preacher 
for  the  negroes.  It  was  to  these  two  churches  that  most  of 
the  negroes  joined  themselves,  although  there  were  some  in 
each  of  the  other  leading  bodies.     There  was  much  reason 

xSee  Hawkins'  "Memoir  of  Lunsford  Lane,"  64-66. 
2 See  manuscript  book  on  "Slavery,"  p.  294. 

369]  Religious  Life.  53 

for  this.  These  two  churches  in  North  Carolina  were 
organized  for  the  masses.  Their  doctrines  were  easily  com- 
prehended and  emotional ;  and  the  negro  is  a  creature  of 
emotions.  Moreover  these  bodies  made  special  efforts  to 
reach  the  negroes.  They  went  among  the  large  slave  plan- 
tations as  missionaries.  Other  denominations  paid  more 
attention  to  household  slaves.  In  not  a  few  cases  Meth- 
odism began  with  negro  congregations  and  in  at  least  one 
place  it  was  introduced  by  a  negro  preacher.  But  true  as  it 
was  that  the  Methodists  and  Baptists  attracted  the  negroes 
more  strongly,  it  was  perhaps  equally  true  that  the  Quakers, 
in  proportion  to  their  own  numbers,  were  more  closely 
intimate  with  the  negroes  than  any  other  religious  body 
in  the  State.  Of  this  more  will  be  said  later  on.  Let  us 
now  consider  the  Methodists  and  the  slave. 

In  the  eighteenth  century  the  record  of  the  Methodists 
was  clearly  against  slavery.  John  Wesley  himself  said  that 
the  slave  trade  was  the  sum  of  all  villainies,  although  White- 
field  was  not  opposed  to  it.  The  anti-slavery  sentiment 
was  strongest  in  the  Northern  Conferences,  although  it  was 
not  unknown  in  the  Southern.  As  early  as  1780  the  Con- 
ference of  all  the  Church  declared:  "Slavery  is  contrary  to 
the  laws  of  God,  man  and  nature  and  hurtful  to  society,  con- 
trary to  the  dictates  of  conscience  and  pure  religion,  and 
doing  that  which  we  would  not  that  others  should  do  to  us 
and  ours."1  In  1784  the  Conference  resolved  to  expel  from 
membership  those  who  bought  and  sold  slaves.2  This  step 
was  calculated  to  arouse  much  opposition  in  the  South 
among  the  laymen,  even  if  the  "preachers  had  favored  it. 
It  occasioned  much  criticism  and  aroused  much  feeling  in 
both  Virginia  and  the  two  Carohnas.  In  the  spring  of  1875, 
Dr.  Coke  arrived  in  America.  He  preached  strongly 
against  slavery  and  got  the  Virginia  Conference  to  petition 
the  Legislature  for  gradual  emancipation.  This  made  him 
very  unpopular,  so  much  so  that  he  barely  escaped  bodily 
violence.     The  slaveholders  now  withdrew  their  slaves  from 

Conference  Minutes,  p.  25.  27bid.,  pp.  47-48. 

54  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [370 

contact  with  Methodist  preachers.1  The  Conference  of 
1785  thought  it  prudent  to  rescind  its  former  action,  but 
was  particular  to  add :  "N.  B. — We  do  hold  in  the  deepest 
abhorrence  the  practice  of  slavery,  and  shall  not  cease  to 
seek  its  destruction  by  all  wise  and  prudent  means."2  So 
far  as  an  open  declaration  for  emancipation  is  concerned, 
the  Conference  was  quiet  for  some  time;  but  in  1795  it 
showed  its  concern  in  the  negro's  welfare  by  setting  apart  a 
fast  day  "to  lament  the  deep-rooted  vassalage  that  still 
reigneth  in  many  parts  of  this  free  and  independent  United 
States,"  and  it  added:  "We  feel  gratified  that  many  thous- 
ands of  these  poor  people  are  free  and  pious."3 

As  the  Church  became  strong  enough  to  organize  Con- 
ferences, in  the  various  sections  the  question  of  the  existence 
of  slavery  was  referred  to  these  bodies  and  thus  localized  to 
an  extent.  But  one  particular  question  that  concerned  all 
was  the  propriety  of  allowing  a  preacher  to  hold  slaves.  As 
early  as  1783  the  Conference  forbade  a  preacher  to  own 
slaves  in  a  State  where  it  was  legal  to  free  them.4  Much  dis- 
cussion grew  up  over  this  matter  early  in  the  present  century. 
Finally  it  was  settled  on  the  lines  earlier  adopted.  It  was 
agreed  in  1816  that  no  slaveholder  should  hold  office  m 
States  which  allowed  emancipation  and  subsequent  resi- 
dence of  the  liberated  negro.  Here  was  a  distinct  compro- 
mise fixed  on  the  principle  of  sectional  conditions,  the  prin- 
ciple which  four  years  later  the  Missouri  compromise 
followed  in  the  broader  sphere  of  politics.5  The  Church 
continued  the  former  strong  declaration  against  slavery  in 
the  abstract,  a  declaration  which,  it  was  likely,  was  supported 
by  Southern  preachers.  It  was  on  the  compromise  of  18 16 
that  the  fight  which  led  to  separation  in   1844  was  made. 

1Drew:  "Life  of  Dr.  Coke,"  pp.  132-139. 
2Conference  Minutes,  p.  55. 
3 Ibid.,  pp.  163-164. 

kIbid.,  p.  41,  and  the  Discipline  of  1821,  p.  69. 

5See  the  Discipline  of  1817  and  Redpath's  "Organization  of  the 
Methodist  Episcopal  Church  South,"  p.  10. 

371]  Religious  Life.  55 

The  occasion  was  the  censure  voted  against  Bishop 
Andrew  because  he  had  married  in  Georgia  a  woman  who 
owned  slaves.  The  Southern  organization  which  was  now 
formed  continued  its  protest  against  slavery.  The  first 
edition  of  its  Discipline,  1846,  said  in  the  words  of  the 
older  Discipline :  "We  declare  that  we  are  as  much  as  ever 
convinced  of  the  great  evil  of  slavery.  Therefore,  no  slave- 
holder shall  be  eligible  to  any  official  position  in  our  Church 
hereafter  where  the  Laws  of  the  State  in  which  he  lives  will 
admit  of  emancipation  and  permit  the  liberated  slave  to 
enjoy  freedom.  When  any  traveling  preacher  becomes  an 
owner  of  a  slave  or  slaves,  by  any  means,  he  shall  forfeit 
his  ministerial  character  in  our  Church,  unless  he  execute, 
if  it  be  practicable,  a  legal  emancipation  of  such  slaves,  con- 
formable to  the  laws  of  the  State  in  which  he  lives."  Fur- 
thermore, preachers  were  to  enforce  prudently  on  their  mem- 
bers the  duty  of  teaching  slaves  to  read  the  Bible  and  to 
attend  church  services.  Colored  preachers  and  officials 
were  guaranteed  the  privileges  of  their  official  relation 
"where  the  usages  of  the  country  do  not  forbid  it."  Of  all 
of  these  ameliorating  conditions  to  the  slave  but  one  was 
applicable  in  North  Carolina ;  for  here  he  could  not  be 
legally  emancipated  and  remain  in  the  State,  nor  could  he 
be  allowed  to  preach  or  be  taught  to  read  the  Bible.  It 
only  remained  for  him  to  aspire  to  be  some  church  official 
lower  than  a  preacher.  The  original  strong  desire  to  chris- 
tianize the  negro,  which  the  Methodists  never  forsook,  was 
clearly  bound  and  held  in  restraint  in  conformity  to  the 
newer  spirit  of  harshness  that,  as  has  already  been  said, 
seized  the  State  Legislature  about  1830. 

The  labors  of  the  Methodists  among  the  slaves  began  in 
the  very  first  days  of  Methodism  in  the  State.  The  General 
Conference  in  17871  urged  the  preachers  to  labor  among  the 
slaves,  to  receive  into  full  membership  those  that  seemed 

1  See  Minutes  of  Conference,  p.   67.     The  Methodist  Church  in 
America  dates  from  1784. 

56  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [372 

worthy,  and  "to  exercise  the  whole  Methodist  Discipline 
among-  them."  How  well  these  efforts  prospered  may  be 
seen  from  the  following  figures :  In  1787  there  were  in 
North  Carolina1  5017  white  and  492  colored  members;  in 

1788  there  were  5263   white  and  775   black  members;   in 

1789  there  were  6644  whites  and  1139  blacks;  in  1790  there 
were  7518  whites  to  1749  blacks;  in  1795  there  were  8414 
whites  to  1719  blacks;  in  1800  there  6363  whites  to  2108 
blacks;  in  1805  there  were  9385  whites  to  2394  blacks;  in 
1810  there  were  13,535  whites  to  4724  blacks;  in  1815  there 
were  14,283  whites  to  5165  blacks;  in  1820  there  were  13,179 
whites  to  5933  blacks;  in  1825  there  were  15,421  whites  to 
7292  blacks;  in  1830  there  were  19,228  whites  to  10,182 
blacks ;  in  1835  there  were  27,539  whites  to  8766  blacks, 
and  in  1839,  which  is  the  last  year  for  which  I  have  been 
able  to  obtain  the  figures,  there  were  26,405  whites  to  9302 
blacks.  Here  was  a  rapid  proportional  gain  of  the  blacks 
over  the  whites.  In  1787  there  were  not  10  per  cent,  as 
many  black  as  white  members;  in  1839  there  were  35  per 
cent,  as  many.  The  membership  for  each  race  varied  nota- 
bly, but  the  variations  were  wider  with  the  negro  race. 
This  indicates,  it  must  be  supposed,  the  more  emotional 
nature  of  the  negro.  A  wave  of  revival  feeling  which  would 
sweep  over  the  country  would  swell  the  roll  of  membership 
and  a  few  years  of  coolness  would  contract  it. 

Although  there  were  negro  Methodists  in  most  sections 
of  the  State,  they  were  most  numerous  in  the  eastern  coun- 
ties. In  this  section  the  Methodists  often  began  their  work 
with  an  appeal  to  the  slaves — "negro  churches,"  their  meet- 
ing houses  were  often  called  by  the  more  aristocratic 
denominations.  An  illustration  is  Wilmington.  Here 
William  Meredith,  a  Methodist  preacher,  arrived  at  the 
beginning  of  this  century.     He  began  to  work  among  the 

aThe  estimates  are  based  on  reports  in  the  Minutes.  It  is  doubtful 
whether  some  charges  near  the  State  boundaries  were  in  North  Caro- 
lina or  out  of  it.  Therefore,  the  figures  may  not  be  absolutely  cor- 
rect, but  for  purposes  of  comparison  they  are  adequate. 

373]  Religions  Life.  57 

slaves.  He  bought  a  lot,  and  through  the  penny  collection 
from  the  blacks  and  the  scanty  contributions  of  the  few 
poorer  whites  who  had  joined  with  him,  a  building  was 
completed.  This  was  the  beginning  of  Methodists  in  the 
town.  Hither  came  Bishop  Francis  Asbury  in  1807  and 
preached  twice  in  one  day.  On  the  same  day,  John  Charles, 
a  colored  preacher,  preached  at  sunrise.  The  feeling  of 
friendship  for  him  seems  to  have  been  great  and  the  good 
Bishop  writes  in  his  journal  that  it  was  "a  high  day  on 
Mount  Zion."  The  attitude  of  the  community  was  not 
always  tolerant  of  this  "negro  church."  There  were  vari- 
ous disturbances,  and  once  the  building  was  wrecked  by 
a   mob.1 

More  striking,  but  not  so  typical,  is  the  story  of  the  plant- 
ing of  Methodism  in  Fayetteville.  Late  in  the  eighteenth 
century,  Fayetteville  had  but  one  church  organization,  the 
Presbyterian,  and  that  had  no  building.  One  day  there 
arrived  in  town  Henry  Evans,  a  full-blooded  free  negro  from 
Virginia,  who  was  moving  to  Charleston,  S.  C,  where  he 
proposed  to  follow  the  trade  of  shoemaking.  He  was  perhaps 
free  born ;  he  was  a  Methodist  and  a  licensed  local  preacher. 
In  Fayetteville  he  observed  that  the  colored  people  "were 
wholly  given  to  profanity  and  lewdness,  never  hearing 
preaching  of  any  denomination."  He  felt  it  his  duty  to  stop 
and  work  among  them.  He  worked  at  his  trade  during  the 
week  and  preached  on  Sunday.  The  whites  became  alarmed 
and  the  Town  Council  ordered  him  to  stop  preaching.  He 
then  met  his  flock  in  the  "sand  hills,"  desolate  places  out- 
side of  the  jurisdiction  of  the  Town  Council.  Fearing  vio- 
lence he  made  his  meetings  secret  and  changed  the  place  of 
meeting  from  Sunday  to  Sunday.  He  was  particular  to 
violate  no  law,  and  to  all  the  whites  he  showed  the  respect 
which  their  sense  of  caste  superiority  demanded.     Public 

1See  "  Early  Methodism  in  Wilmington,"  by  Dr.  A.  M.  Chreitz- 
berg,  in  the  Annual  Publication  of  the  Historical  Society  of  the  N.  C. 
Conference,  1897,  p.  1;  also  Wightman:  "Life  of  Bishop  Capers," 
P-  136. 

58  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [374 

opinion  began  to  change,  especially  when  it  was  noticed  that 
slaves  who  had  come  under  his  influence  were  more  docile 
for  it.  Some  prominent  whites,  most  of  whom  were  women, 
became  interested  in  his  cause.  They  attended  his  meet- 
ings and  through  their  influence  public  opinion  was 
reversed.  Then  a  rude  frame  building  was  erected  within 
the  town  limits  and  a  number  of  seats  were  reserved  for  the 
whites,  some  of  whom  became  regular  attendants  at  his 
services.  The  preacher's  reputation  spread.  The  white 
portion  of  the  congregation  increased  till  the  negroes  were 
crowded  out  of  their  seats.  Then  the  boards  were  knocked 
from  the  sides  of  the  house  and  sheds  were  built  on  either 
hand  and  in  these  the  blacks  were  seated.  By  this  time  the 
congregation,  which  had  been  unconnectional  at  first,  had 
been  taken  into  the  regular  Methodist  connection  and  a  reg- 
ular white  preacher  had  been  sent  to  it.  But  the  heroic 
founder  was  not  displaced.  A  room  was  built  for  him  in 
the  rear  of  the  pulpit  and  there  he  lived  till  his  death  in 

Of  Henry  Evans,  Bishop  Capers  said :  "I  have  known 
not  many  preachers  who  appeared  more  conversant  with 
the  Scriptures  than  Evans,  or  whose  conversation  was  more 
instructive  as  to  the  things  of  God.  He  seemed  always  deeply 
impressed  with  the  responsibility  of  his  position  *  *  " 
nor  would  he  allow  any  partiality  of  friends  to  induce  him 
to  vary  in  the  least  degree  from  the  lines  of  conduct  or  the 
bearing  which  he  had  prescribed  to  himself  in  this  respect ; 
never  speaking  to  a  white  man  but  with  his  hat  under  his 
arm,  never  allowing  himself  to  be  seated  in  their  houses  and 
even  confining  himself  to  the  kind  and  manner  of  dress 
proper  for  slaves  in  general,  except  his  plain  black  coat  in 
the  pulpit.  'The  whites  are  kind  and  come  to  hear  me 
preach,'  he  would  say,  'but  I  belong  to  my  own  sort  and 
must  not  spoil  them.'  "  Rare  self-control  before  the  most 
wretched  of  castes !  Henry  Evans  did  much  good,  but  he 
would  have  done  more  good  had  his  spirit  been  untram- 
meled  by  this  sense  of  inferiority. 

375]  Religions  Life.  59 

His  last  speech  to  his  people  is  noteworthy.  Directly 
after  the  morning  sermon  for  the  whites  it  was  customary 
to  have  a  sermon  for  the  blacks.  On  the  Sunday  before 
Evans'  death,  as  the  latter  meeting  was  being  held  the  door 
of  his  little  shed  room  opened  and  he  tottered  forward. 
Leaning  on  the  altar  rail  he  said :  "I  have  come  to  say  my 
last  word  to  you.  It  is  this :  None  but  Christ.  Three 
times  I  have  had  my  life  in  jeopardy  for  preaching  the 
gospel  to  you.  Three  times  I  have  broken  the  ice  on  the 
edge  of  the  water  and  swam  across  the  Cape  Fear  to  preach 
the  gospel  to  you,  and  if  in  my  last  hour  I  could  trust  to 
that,  or  anything  but  Christ  crucified,  for  my  salvation,  all 
should  be  lost  and  my  soul  perish  forever."  Of  these  words 
Bishop  Capers  justly  says  that  they  were  worthy  of  St. 

The  opposition  that  was  encountered  in  Fayetteville  and 
in  Wilmington  had  been  due  to  the  more  active  abolition 
turn  of  the  Church  in  the  North.  In  1785  Dr.  Coke  arrived 
in  America  on  a  visit  to  the  Church.  He  preached  aboli- 
tion and  gave  it  an  impetus  among  the  Methodists  which 
resulted  in  memorials  and  remonstrances  to  the  Legisla- 
ture. Before  this  the  large  slave-owners  had  encouraged 
preaching  to  their  slaves.2  They  now  became  fearful  that 
the  slaves  would  be  incited  to  violence,  and  generally  in  the 
South,  Methodist  ministers  were  forbidden  access  to  the 
slaves.  It  took  some  time  to  live  down  this  unfavorable 
impression  and  it  was  only  when  it  was  seen  that  the  South- 
ern preachers  did  not  approve  of  the  interference  with  the 
agitation  against  negro  slavery  that  public  sentiment  came 
around.  There  was  the  most  urgent  need  for  such  preach- 
ing. Of  the  negroes  around  Wilmington,  Bishop  Capers 
says :  "A  numerous  population  of  this  class  in  that  town 
and  vicinity  were  as  destitute  of  any  public  instruction  (or, 
probably,  instruction  of  any  kind  as  to  spiritual  things)  as 
if  they  had  not  been  believed  to  be  men  at  all,  and  their 

1  Wightman:  "  Life  of  Bishop  Capers,"  pp.  124-129. 
2 Drew:   "Life  of  Dr.  Coke,"  pp.  132-139. 

60  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [376 

morals  were  as  depraved  as,  with  such  a  destitution  of  the 
gospel  among  them,  might  have  been  expected."  To  this 
state  of  things  the  masters  were  indifferent;  for,  adds  the 
Bishop,  "it  seems  not  to  have  been  considered  that  such  a 
state  of  things  might  furnish  motives  sufficient  to  induce 
pure-minded  men  to  engage,  at  great  inconvenience  or  even 
personal  hazard,  in  the  work  of  reforming  them.  Such 
work,  on  the  other  hand,  seems  to  have  been  regarded  as 
Unnecessary,  if  not  unreasonable.  Conscience  was  not 
believed  to  be  concerned  in  it.  "*  And  yet  when  conveyed 
the  negroes  made  good  Christians.  Says  the  same  author- 
ity :  "I  believe  I  have  never  served  a  more  Christian-hearted 
people."  The  preacher  had  a  great  influence  over  them. 
Church  trials  were  rare  among  them  and  the  numbers 
increased  constantly.  They  were  faithful  in  giving  to  the 
church.  The  pastor's  salary  at  Wilmington  was  derived 
almost  wholly  from  their  scant  resources ;  for  the  few  white 
members  were  very  poor.  They  were  attached  to  their 
preacher,  as  many  a  pound  cake  or  warm  pair  of  knit  socks 
or  gloves  from  their  hands  testified. 

Sometimes  a  congregation  outgrew  in  dignity  the  hum- 
bler persons  who  had  at  first  constituted  its  chief  elements. 
Such  was  the  case  at  Raleigh.  Here  there  were  at  first  a 
large  number  of  colored  members,  and  when  the  church 
building  was  erected  they  contributed  their  part.  They  were 
given  seats  in  the  gallery.  At  length  there  was  an  oppor- 
tunity to  buy  a  church  which  might  be  turned  over  solely 
to  the  negroes.  Both  whites  and  blacks  worked  with  their 
might  to  get  the  necessary  money.  When  it  was  at  length 
secured,  there  was  a  two-fold  rejoicing;  by  the  negroes 
because  they  had  a  building  of  their  own,  by  the  whites 
because  the  negroes  were  out  of  the  white  man's  church. 
This  negro  church  now  became  a  mission  and  a  white 
preacher  was  assigned  to  it  by  the  Conference.  Usually 
an  old  preacher  of  kind  disposition  and  good  judgment  was 
sent  to  them.  They  were  still  under  the  oversight  of  the  white 

1Wightman:  "Life  of  Bishop  Capers,"  p.  163. 

377]  Religious  Life.  61 

congregation  from  which  they  drew  for  Sunday  school 
teachers  and  other  church  workers. 

The  Baptists  were  early  in  North  Carolina,  but  until  the 
establishment  of  the  Missionary  Baptist  Church  in  1830 
they  were  hardly  as  zealous  for  converting  the  unsaved  as 
later.  I  have  not  found  evidence  that  they  began  by  work- 
ing up  congregations  among  the  slaves  as  did  the  Meth- 
odists in  some  places,  but  from  the  first  they  took  great 
care  to  bring  under  religious  influence  the  slaves  of  their 
own  members  and  through  these  the  negroes  generally 
came  to  be  reached  at  length.  The  records  of  Sandy  Run 
Church,  in  Bertie  County,  as  early  as  1773,  show  that  there 
were  negro  preachers  for  the  negro  members,  and  that  these 
were  instructed  not  to  hold  services  at  the  time  of  the  regular 
meeting  of  the  whole  church,  at  which  it  was  designed  that 
the  slaves  might  also  be  present.  Both  colored  preachers 
and  colored  members  were  under  the  control  of  the  white 
congregation.  They  had  no  voice  in  general  church  affairs, 
but  would  be  heard  in  church  meeting  in  cases  which 
related  to  their  own  race.  There  were  in  some  eastern  sec- 
tions colored  deacons  who  were  given  charge  of  the  colored 
members  and  who  made  report  from  time  to  time  to  the 
church  meeting.1 

It  has  been  found  impossible  to  get  an  estimate  of  the 
number  of  negroes  in  the  Baptist  Church  in  North  Carolina. 
Here  the  congregational  idea  was  strong,  the  reports  to  the 
associations  were  not  very  full  and  do  not  always  show  the 
number  of  members.  In  1830  the  Baptist  State  Conven- 
tion was  formed,  and  from  that  time  the  minutes  are  pub- 
lished for  the  Missionary  Baptist  Church  in  North  Carolina, 
but  in  the  few  years  for  which  the  number  of  members  are 
reported,  there  is  no  distinction  made  between  blacks  and 
whites.  It  is  only  in  the  Chowan  Association  that  I  have 
had  a  glimpse  of  numbers.  Here  there  were  in  1843,  4575 
white   to    1228    black  members;   in    1844,    3241   whites  to 

xFor  many  of  the  facts  here  presented  I  am  indebted  to  Dr.  J.  D. 
Huffham,  of  Henderson,  N.  C. 

62  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [378 

1160  blacks;  in  1848,  4619  whites  to  1541  blacks;  in  1850, 
4668  whites  to  1476  blacks ;  in  1855,  6960  whites  to  2545 
blacks,  and  in  i860,  7539  whites  to  3043  blacks.  This  pro- 
portion was  strong,  but  it  must  be  remembered  that  the 
Chowan  Association  lay  in  the  East,  and  that  it  was  in  a 
region  which  was  strong  in  Baptist  faith.  It  was  not  repre- 
sentative of  the  denomination  on  this  question. 

The  care  of  the  Church  over  the  life  of  the  slave  was  com- 
mendably  faithful,  especially  over  the  relation  of  master  and 
slave.  As  early  as  1778  it  was  decided  that  a  marriage 
between  slaves  ought  to  be  respected,  even  though  it  was 
against  the  law  of  the  land,  and  that  any  member  who  broke 
the  marriage  vows  of  servants  ought  to  be  denied  fellow- 
ship.1 In  1783  it  was  declared  by  a  meeting  in  the  Sandy 
Creek  Association  that  a  master  should  give  his  servants 
liberty  to  attend  family  prayers  in  his  house,  that  he  should 
exhort  them  to  attend,  but  not  use  force.2  How  this  duty 
was  fulfilled  may  be  seen  from  the  memoir  of  Capt.  John 
Freeman,  a  prominent  Baptist  of  Chowan  County,  who 
died  in  1794.  It  is  said  of  him  that  although  he  had  many 
slaves  "his  lenity  towards  them  was  very  remarkable.  If 
any  of  them  transgressed,  his  general  method  to  chastise 
them  was  to  expose  their  faults  before  the  rest  of  the  ser- 
vants and  the  whole  family  when  they  were  at  family  wor- 
ship in  the  morning,  who,  when  assembled  at  morning 
prayer,  would  talk  to<  them,  exhort  and  rebuke  them  so 
sharply  for  their  faults  that  he  made  others  fear.  *  *  * 
He  was  so  very  affected  for  the  spiritual  welfare  of  his  fam- 
ily that  often  he  seemed  almost  convulsed,  and  this  extraor- 
dinary zeal  was  not  the  impulse  of  a  moment,  but  his  con- 
stant practice  for  seventeen  years."3 

The  above  statements  apply  to  the  Baptist  body  before 
the  separation  of  the  Missionary  Baptists  from  it.  For  a 
view  of  the  attitude  of  the  latter  toward  slavery,  the  best 

1  Biggs:  "  History  of  Kehuckee  Association,"  p.  47. 
2Purefoy:   "History  of  Sandy  Creek  Association,"  p.  60. 
sBiggs:  "History  of  the  Kehuckee  Association,"  pp.  95-96. 

379]  Religious  Life.  63 

source  at  hand  is  Purefoy's  "History  of  the  Sandy  Creek 
Association."  Here  it  is  seen  that  the  question  of  a  valid 
marriage  between  blacks  was  still  unsettled.  The  Associa- 
tion was  asked  in  1805  to  settle  it.1  After  three  years'  post- 
ponement it  was  answered  that  such  a  marriage  should  he 
valid,  ''when  they  come  together  in  their  former  and  general 
custom,  having  no  [other]  companion."  Rev.  Purefoy, 
commenting  on  this,  says2  owners  should  endeavor  to  keep 
married  slaves  from  being  separated,  even  if  they  put  them- 
selves to  some  inconvenience  in  buying,  selling,  or  exchang- 
ing them. 

To  the  buying  and  selling  of  slaves  for  profit  Baptists  in 
both  East  and  West  were  opposed.  In  181 8  the  Chowan 
Association  was  asked  if  a  Christian  could  consistently 
buy  slaves  in  order  to  sell  them  to  speculators.  The  answer 
was  clear :  "We  believe  that  such  practice  is  at  war  with  the 
spirit  of  the  gospel  and  shocking  to  all  the  tender  feelings 
of  our  nature.  We  answer  No."3  In  1835  Sandy  Creek 
Association  spoke  still  more  emphatically.  It  said : 
"Whereas,  We  believe  it  inconsistent  with  the  spirit  of  the 
gospel  of  Christ  for  a  Christian  to  buy  or  sell  negroes  for  the 
purpose  of  speculation  or  merchandise  for  gain.  Resolved, 
therefore,  that  this  association  advise  the  churches  of  which 
it  is  composed  to  exclude  members  who  will  not  abandon 
the  practice  after  the  first  and  second  admonition."4  When 
in  1847  tne  Association  was  asked  if  it  was  agreeable  to  the 
gospe1  for  Baptists  to  buy  and  sell  human  beings  or  to  keep 
them  in  bondage  for  life,  the  only  answer  vouchsafed  was 
to  refer  the  interrogators  to  the  minutes  of  1835.  The 
slavery  dispute  was  then  well-nigh  in  its  stage  of  highest 
passion,  and  it  is  not  unlikely  that  the  Church  authorities 
did  not  like  to  take  a  more  definite  position  on  either  the 
first  or  second  part  of  the  query. 

'Purefoy:  "History  of  Sandy  Creek  Association,"  p.  76. 
*3id.,  pp.  93-94- 

3  "Minutes  of  the  Chowan  Baptist  Association,"  1818,  p.  7. 
4Purefoy:  "  Sandy  Creek  Association,"  pp.  163-164. 

64  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [380 

The  Baptists,  like  the  Methodists,  early  in  the  century  had 
negro  preachers,  most  notable  of  whom  was  Ralph  Free- 
man. Ralph  was  a  slave  in  Anson  County  in  the  neighbor- 
hood of  Rock  River  Church.  Soon  after  his  conversion  he 
felt  an  impulse  to  preach,  and  early  in  this  century  he  was 
licensed  by  his  church  for  that  purpose.  Soon  afterwards 
he  was  ordained  to  the  regular  ministry.  He  did  not  have 
specific  charges,  but  traveled  and  preached  through  his  own 
and  the  adjoining  counties.  Says  Rev.  Purefoy :  "He 
became  a  good  reader  and  was  well  versed  in  the  Scripture. 
He  was  considered  an  able  preacher  and  was  frequently 
called  upon  to  preach  on  funeral  occasions,  and  was 
appointed  to  preach  on  Sabbath  at  Association,  and  fre- 
quently administered  the  ordinance  of  baptism  and  the 
Lord's  Supper.  He  was  of  common  size,  was  perfectly 
black,  with  a  smiling  countenance,  especially  in  the  pulpit 
while  speaking.  He  was  very  humble  in  his  appearance  at 
all  times,  and  especially  when  conducting  religious  services. 
Great  personal  respect  was  also  shown  him  by  the  brethren 
whom  he  visited  in  his  preaching  excursions."  Rev.  Joseph 
Magee,  a  white  Baptist  minister,  became  much  attached  to 
Ralph.  They  used  to  travel  and  preach  together  and  after 
the  fashion  of  the  times  it  was  agreed  between  them  that  the 
survivor  should  preach  the  funeral  sermon  of  the  one  who 
died  first.  This  task  fell  to  Ralph.  Although  his  friend 
had  moved  to  the  West,  the  colored  preacher  was  sent  for  all 
the  way  from  North  Carolina  to  come  and  fulfil  the  promise 
made  years  earlier.  Ralph  complied  with  great  success  and 
before  a  large  audience.  When  the  Baptists  divided  on  the 
question  of  missions,  Ralph  sided  with  the  anti-mission 
party,  and  so  fell  into  disfavor  with  the  others.  This  he 
regretted,  but  a  greater  blow,  which  also  fell  about  the  same 
time,  was  the  statute  which  forbade  negroes  to  preach.  He 
was  greatly  mortified,  but  submitted,  and  with  that  passes 
from  our  notice. 

In  proportion  to  their  strength  the  Quakers  did  more  for 
the  negroes  than  any  other  religious  body  in  North  Caro- 


381]  Religious  Life.  65 

lina.  They  did  not  have  very  many  colored  members,  but 
before  the  Revolution  they  set  themselves  to  free  those  they 
did  have  ;  and  they  did  not  stop  until  the  process  was 
accomplished.  The  Yearly  Meeting  of  the  very  first  year 
of  the  war,  1776,  appointed  a  committee  to  go  about  and  aid 
Friends  to  free  their  slaves.  This  committee  was  expected 
to  act  in  co-operation  with  the  various  monthly  meetings. 
Thus  a  considerable  number  were  liberated  in  the  following 
year.  The  committee  reported  that  they  found  among  the 
Friends  a  great  willingness  to  forward  the  work.  But  they 
had  acted  contrary  to  the  law  of  emancipation  which 
required  that  slaves  should  be  freed  for  meritorious  conduct 
only.  Forty  of  those  thus  emancipated  were  taken  up  and 
sold  into  slavery  again.  The  Quakers  complained  that  this 
was  done  under  a  law  passed  in  1777,  after  the  slaves  were 
liberated.  At  considerable  expense  they  fought  the  matter 
through  County  and  Superior  Courts  and  won  the  verdict ; 
but  the  Assembly  was  then  appealed  to  and  in  1779  it  passed 
a  law  confirming  the  sales  of  these  negroes  and  directing 
that  all  other  negroes  similarly  freed  should  be  sold  into 
slavery  in  the  same  manner  as  if  they  had  been  freed  after 
the  passage  of  the  law  of  1777.  The  reason  for  this  extra- 
ordinary procedure  was  no  doubt  the  law  of  1741,  which 
was  held  to  be  still  in  force.  The  Friends,  however,  were 
not  satined.  They  appealed  to  the  Assembly.  They  based 
their  theory  on  the  principle  "that  no  law,  moral  or  divine, 
has  given  us  a  right  to,  or  property  in,  any  of  our  fellovv 
creatures  any  longer  than  they  are  in  a  state  of  minority." 
They  appealed  to  the  statement  of  the  rights  of  man  in  the 
Declaration  of  Independence,  and  showed  that  the  sale  of 
the  negroes  in  question  was  in  opposition  to  the  spirit  of  the 
North  Carolina  Bill  of  Rights,  which  forbade  the  passage 
of  ex  post  facto  laws.  This  petition  was  signed  by  the 
eleven  men  who  had  owned  the  slaves  in  question  and  was 
sent  to  the  Assembly,  but  on  the  advice  of  persons  friendly 

66  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [382 

to  the  Quakers  it  was  not  presented.1  This  did  not  deter 
the  Friends  from  further  petitions.  One  was  sent  in  1787, 
another  in  1788,  and  another  in  1789.  The  petitions  were 
about  various  matters,  but  none  of  them  amounted  to  any- 
thing. In  1792  they  petitioned  again,  asking  the  repeal  of 
the  law  restricting  emancipation,  and  demanding  that  it 
"never  again  disgrace  the  annals  of  a  Christian  people."  The 
petition  failed,  but  they  did  not  cease  to  send  others  in  the 
years  following.  In  1817  they  asked  the  Legislature  to 
take  joint  action  with  Congress  for  the  colonization  of  the 
free  negroes.  The  petition  failed,  and  the  next  year  they 
voted  $1000  to  the  American  Colonization  Society.  For 
some  time  there  seems  to  have  been  no  further  connection 
with  this  society. 

The  instruction  of  the  slaves  in  religious  and  educational 
matters  aroused  the  energies  of  the  Quakers.  They  became 
awakened  in  this  matter  in  1780,  when  it  seems  that  but  little 
had  been  done.  In  1787  it  was  asserted  that  one  of  the  two 
leading  objects  of  their  activities  toward  the  negro  was  to 
care  for,  protect,  and  instruct  the  freed  negroes.  The 
immediate  result  of  this  interest  does  not  appear;  but  in 
181 5  Friends  were  exhorted  by  the  Yearly  Meeting  to  pre- 
pare schools  for  the  literary  and  religious  instruction  of 
the  negroes,2  and  in  1816  a  school  for  negroes  was  opened 
for  two  days  in  each  week.  Some  progress  was  made,  as 
may  be  seen  by  the  reports.  Most  of  the  negroes  in  the  West- 
ern Quarter  who  were  minors  had  been  put  in  a  way  to  get '  Ja 
portion  of  school  learning."  The  Quarter  recommended  that 
males  be  taught  to  "read,  write  and  cipher  as  far  as  the  Rule 
of  Three,"  and  that  females  be  taught  to  read  and  write 
merely.3     In  1821,  Levi  Coffin  and  his  cousin,  Vestal,  opened 

'A  chief  source  of  facts  relating  to  the  Quakers  and  Slavery  has 
been  "A  Narrative  of  Some  of  the  Proceedings  of  the  North  Carolina 
Yearly  Meeting  on  the  subject  of  Slavery  within  its  Limits."  (See 
"Slavery  and  Servitude,"  p.  50,  note  1.) 

2  Quaker  pamphlet  cited  above,  p.  24. 

zIbid.,  p.  24.  See  also  Weeks:  "Southern  Quakers  and  Slavery," 
p.  231. 

383]  Religious  Life.  67 

a  Sunday  school  for  the  blacks  at  New  Garden  and  began  to 
teach  some  slaves  to  spell ;  but  when  they  could  spell  words 
of  two  or  three  letters  they  were  withdrawn  by  their  masters. 
The  former  attempt  must  have  been  as  unsatisfactory  as  that 
of  the  Coffins,  since  the  standing  committee  of  the  Quakers 
reported  in  1821  that  they  could  find  no  way  to'  educate  col- 
ored children  except  in  the  families  of  Friends.  Either  in 
this  way  or  otherwise  some  progress  was  undoubtedly 
made,  as  appears  from  the  reports  sent  in  to  the  Yearly 
Meeting.  When  the  Assembly  passed  the  law  forbidding 
slaves  to  be  taught  to  read  and  write  the  Quakers  petitioned 
for  its  repeal,  and  they  also  asked  for  the  repeal  of  the  law 
forbidding  colored  persons  to  preach.  They  said :  "We 
consider  these  laws  unrighteous  and  contrary  to  the  spirit 
of  Christianity,  offensive  to  God ;  and  your  memorialists 
believe,  if  not  repealed,  they  will  increase  the  difficulties  and 
dangers  they  are  intended  to  prevent."1  Furthermore,  they 
asked  for  the  enactment  of  a  law  to  instruct  slaves  in  reli- 
gion and  in  reading,  so  that  they  could  read  the  Bible. 

To  accomplish  the  liberation  of  slaves  in  the  face  of  the 
laws  they  had  recourse  to  corporate  ownership.  In  1808 
a  committee  was  appointed  on  the  state  of  the  people  of 
color,  and  its  recommendation,  which  was  adopted,  was 
that  certain  trustees  should  be  appointed  to  whom  should  be 
conveyed  the  slaves  whom  it  was  desired  to  emancipate. 
These  slaves  were  to  be  held  in  nominal  bondage,  but  the 
trustees  were  to  retain  only  so  much  power  over  them  as 
should  be  for  the  good  of  the  slaves'  conduct.  Thus  an 
idle  negro  might  be  coerced  moderately.  The  Friends  took 
this  step  on  the  advice  of  Judge  William  Gaston,  who  was 
always  a  friend  of  freedom  and  of  the  slave.  At  first  some 
Friends  opposed  the  project,  but  they  gradually  changed 
their  views  and  the  custom  continued  in  force  until  the  Civil 
War.  As  soon  as  this  plan  was  in  operation,  slaves  began 
to  disappear  from  among  the   Quakers.     Many  of  them 

xSee  Quaker  pamphlet  cited,  p.  34. 

68  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [384 

were  sent  out  of  the  State — either  to  free  territory  in  the 
United  States  or  to  Africa  or  to  the  West  Indies.  A  few 
could  be  freed  by  the  consent  of  the  County  Courts.  A 
considerable  number,  especially  those  who  were  connected 
by  family  bonds  with  the  slaves  of  persons  not  Quakers,  as 
well  as  old  persons  who  were  not  fit  to  begin  a  new  life  in 
a  new  place,  were  retained  in  the  hands  of  the  trustees. 
The  general  result  of  this  relation,  however,  was  to  move 
the  negroes  out  of  the  State ;  and  this  was  no  doubt  due 
partly  to  the  legal  aspects  of  the  case  as  seen  in  the  decision 
in  the  Contentnea  Society  vs.  Dickinson,  to  which  reference 
has  already  been  made.1  This  decision  might  well  convince 
the  Quakers  that  they  could  not  hope  to  make  society  own- 
ership a  permanent  feature  and  they  used  more  and  more 
the  practice  of  sending  the  slaves  away.  Another  induce- 
ment to  send  the  slaves  away,  and  an  earlier  one,  was  the 
liability  of  having  them  become  a  charge  on  the  society. 
It  is  with  evident  feelings  of  relief  that  the  agents  of  the 
Eastern  Quarter  in  1820  reported  that  the  four  hundred 
slaves  who  were  owned  by  the  Yearly  Meeting  had  been 
managed  so  as  to  avoid  expense,  except  for  sending  some 
away.  In  1822  the  number  in  hand  was  four  hundred  and 
fifty  and  the  Yearly  Meeting  ordered  that  the  trustees 
should  receive  no  slaves  except  from  Quakers.  It  was  for 
this  reason  that  a  committee  was  appointed  to  examine  the 
laws  of  the  free  States  to  see  if  negroes  might  be  sent 
thither.  In  1823  this  committee  made  its  report  in  favor  of 
Ohio,  Indiana  and  Illinois,  and  steps  were  taken  to  remove 
the  slaves  as  rapidly  as  possible,  and  $200  was  voted  to 
defray  the  expenses.  They  were  sent  to  Pennsylvania,  to 
the  Northwest,  to  Hayti,  and,  perhaps,  to  Liberia.  Six  hun- 
dred and  fifty-two  had  gone  by  1830  and  four  hundred  and 
two  were  still  under  care.  The  expense  of  moving  so  many 
had  reached  $12,769.50,  not  all  of  which  had  been  borne 
by  the  North   Carolina  Friends,   for  in    1829  the   Rhode 

1  See  Quaker  pamphlet  cited,  p.  32.     Although  this  decision  was 
not  given  till  1827,  the  case  was  begun  earlier  than  1822. 

385]  Religious  Life.  69 

Island  Yearly  Meeting  had  contributed  to  the  work 
$1351.50.  Sometimes  the  negroes  themselves  paid  part  of 
the  expense  of  removal  by  being  hired  out  for  wages,  the 
surplus  earnings  being  saved  for  this  purpose.  But  the 
Friends  were  not  ungenerous  in  this  matter.  On  one 
occasion  four  women  had  promised  to  go  and  leave  their 
husbands  in  slavery.  At  the  last  moment  they  refused  to 
go,  and  the  Friends  bought  the  husbands  at  an  expense  of 
$1400  and  sent  them  along  with  the  faithful  wives.  The 
owners  of  the  husbands  were  here  equally  benevolent,  for 
they  sold  them  at  half  their  value.  The  last  important 
removal  was  in  1836,  when  fifty-seven  persons  were  sent 
to  the  Northwest  and  two  hundred  were  left  in  the  possession 
of  the  society.  Many  of  these  were  old  people  and  children. 
Death  rapidly  thinned  the  one  class,  and  the  members  of 
the  other  were  sent  away  as  they  became  grown.  In  1848 
the  number  was  about  twelve,  and  it  was  said  by  the  Com- 
mittee on  Sufferings :  "It  is  believed  that  there  is  no  instance 
of  any  [slaves]  being  held  among  us  so  as  to  deprive  them 
of  the  benefit  of  their  labor."1  In  1856  there  were  eighteen 
still  under  care. 

The  work  of  the  Quakers  was  not  easy.  "Such,"  says  the 
narrative  of  the  Committee  on  Sufferings,  from  which  I  have 
already  taken  so  much,  "it  would  appear  was  the  prejudice 
against  freeing  the  slaves,  the  danger  of  their  being  carried 
off  and  sold  in  distant  parts,  the  ignominy  of  their  situation ; 
that  there  was  no  way  but  to  remove  them  to  the  free  gov- 
ernments as  fast  as  their  circumstances  would  permit." 
Many  Quakers  and  other  persons  moved  from  North  Caro- 
lina to  the  Northwest,  and  the  Friends  often  sent  slaves 
whom  they  desired  to  free  along  with  these  emigrants. 
Sometimes  a  large  number  would  be  sent,  and  trusted 
Quakers  would  go  along  with  them  with  authority  to 
effect  emancipation.  Sometimes  a  ship  would  be  chartered, 
as  when  the  negroes  wanted  to  go  to  the  West  Indies. 

1  Quaker  pamphlet  cited,  p.  40. 

70  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [386 

To  the  Quakers  must  be  given,  also,  much  of  the  credit 
for  the  organization  of  the  North  Carolina  Manumission 
Society.  This  society  existed  in  the  region  around  Greens- 
boro, where  the  non-slaveholding  element  was  strong.  It 
had  members  who  were  not  Quakers,  but  it  had  many,  per- 
haps a  majority,  who  were  of  that  faith.  This  society  had 
many  branches  and  its  inception  was  doubtless  due  to  the 
efforts  of  Charles  Osborn,  a  Quaker  minister,  who  organ- 
ized various  branches  in  Guilford  County  in  1816.  In  the 
same  year  these  branches  were  organized  into  a  general 
society,  and  in  the  following  year  this  society  agreed  to 
act  in  connection  with  the  American  Colonization  Society. 
To  this  move  there  was,  however,  much  opposition,  mostly 
from  the  Quaker  members.  These  were  largely  abolition- 
ists and  they  looked  upon  colonization  as  an  aid  to  slavery. 
The  minority  seceded  and  continued  to  meet  at  New  Garden 
till  most  of  them  had  moved  to  the  West.  The  society, 
however,  continued  to  grow.  In  1821,  Benjamin  Lundy 
appeared  in  North  Carolina  and  made  anti-slavery  speeches 
in  Guilford  and  Randolph  Counties.  He  came  from  Ten- 
nessee, where  Elihu  Embree  had  already  inaugurated  a 
promising  anti-slavery  movement.1  In  1824  the  term 
"Colonization"  was  dropped  from  the  name  of  the  society. 
In  1825  there  were  thirty-three  local  societies2  with  a  total 
of  more  than  1000  members.  In  1827  there  were  forty 
branches ;  but  this  was  the  flood-tide  of  the  movement. 
Public  sentiment  was  turning  against  the  cause  of  the  aboli- 
tionists, as  has  been  already  seen.  In  1834  the  society  had 
its  last  meeting.  Of  those  who  had  been  leaders  many  had 
emigrated.  Many  of  the  rank  and  file  had  either  gone 
away  or  been  frightened  by  the  greater  vehemence  of  the 
pro-slavery  advocates.  Whatever  of  vitality  it  had  left 
seems  to  have  been  thrown  into  support  of    the    Under- 

JHoss:  "Sketch  of  Elihu  Embree."  Publication  of  Vanderbilt 
Southern  History  Association,  No.  2,  1897. 

2  Weeks  says  thirty-six,  but  names  only  thirty-three.  "Southern 
Quakers,"  p.  240. 

387]  Religious  Life.  71 

ground  Railway.  It  became  in  its  later  days  emphatically 
abolitionist.  It  advised  its  members  to  subscribe  for 
Lundy's  paper,  and  in  1830  it  passed  resolutions  in  support 
of  William  Lloyd  Garrison.1 

The  Presbyterian  Church  of  North  Carolina  had  never  so 
large  a  proportion  of  negro  members  as  the  Methodist  or 
Baptist  Churches,  but  it  opened  its  doors  as  freely  to  the 
slaves.  These  were  given  special  seats  and  admitted  to  the 
sacrament  of  the  communion  after  the  whites.  That  many  of 
them  became  faithful  and  obedient  Christians  there  can  be 
no  doubt.  Rev.  J.  D.  Mitchell,  a  Presbyterian  pastor  of 
Lynchburg,  Va.,  said  in  1858,  after  twenty-seven  years  in  the 
pastorate :  "Our  colored  members  have  exhibited  a  uniform 
consistency  of  moral  and  religious  character.  In  my  long 
pastorate  I  remember  only  three  cases  of  discipline  among 
the  servants.  *  *  *  Instances  of  high-toned  piety  are 
frequent  among  them."2  The  Southern  Presbyterian  bore 
evidence  that  the  Bible  was  often  read  in  the  churches  where 
there  were  negroes,  especially  the  parts  dealing  with  the 
duties  of  master  and  slaves.  The  reading  of  the  Bible,  it 
thought,  was  not  necessary  to  getting  to  heaven,  and  if 
slaves  were  taught  to  read  they  would  read  incendiary  liter- 
erature  more  than  the  Bible.  "There  are  more  pious  per- 
sons among  the  blacks,"  it  added,  "than  among  any  sim- 
ilar class  of  people  in  the  world."3  It  is  likely  that  the  atti- 
tude of  this  Church  in  North  Carolina  did  not  differ  materi- 
ally from  the  spirit  of  these  utterances. 

At  first  the  Church  was  not  hostile  to  emancipation  in 
the  abstract,  but  it  was  not  inclined  to  wholesale  abolition  in 
actual  practice.  In  1787  the  Synod  of  New  York  and  Phila- 
delphia declared  that  it  highly  approved  of  universal  liberty 
and  of  "the  interest  which  many  States  had  taken  in  pro- 
moting the   abolition   of   slavery ;"   but   since  indolent   and 

'See  "North  Carolina  Manumission  Society,"  by  C.  C.  Weaver, 
Trinity  College  (N.  C.)  Historical  Papers,  series  1,  p.  71. 
2 Quoted  in  De  Bow's  Review,  vol.  24,  pp.  277  and  279. 
*  Ibid.,  vol.  18,  p.  52. 

72  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [388 

ignorant  persons  would  be  a  disadvantage  in  a  community, 
it  urged  that  slaves  be  educated,  that  they  be  encour- 
aged to  buy  themselves,  and  that  members  use  all  efforts  to 
secure  abolition  of  slavery.1  In  1795  the  question  of  fellow- 
ship with  slaveholders  was  up,  but  elicited  nothing  but  an 
injunction  to  brotherly  love  and  charity.  The  same 
body  in  181 5  urged  members  to  give  religious  education  to 
the  slaves,  so  that  they  might  be  fit  for  freedom  when  God 
might  "open  the  door  for  their  emancipation."  At  the 
same  time  it  declared  that  trading  in  slaves  and  cruelty 
toward  them  were  contrary  to  the  spirit  of  Christ.  The 
split  between  the  Northern  and  Southern  wings  of  the 
Church  was  already  in  sight,  although  it  did  not  proceed 
so  rapidly  as  among  the  Methodists.  In  1818  the  General 
Assembly  endorsed  abolition  in  the  abstract  and  expressed 
sympathy  for  the  South  where  most  of  the  virtuous  people 
were  thought  to  be  for  emancipation.  It  urged  such  peo- 
ple to  continue  their  efforts  and  exhorted  others  not  to  make 
"uncharitable  reflection  on  their  brethren,  who  unhappily 
live  among  slaves  whom  they  "cannot  immediately  set  free." 
It  also  spoke  decidedly  against  the  separation  of  slave  fam- 
ilies by  sale.  Any  church  member  who  would  do  this 
ought  to  be  suspended  from  fellowship,  "unless  there  be 
such  peculiar  circumstances  attending  the  case  as  can  but 
seldom  happen."2  For  some  time  after  this  the  question 
was  not  brought  up ;  but  in  1835  it  would  be  ignored  no 
longer.  A  committee  was  appointed  on  the  matter,  and 
the  next  year  it  reported  that  slavery  was  a  civil  question 
and  ought  not  to  be  considered  by  the  Assembly.  After 
some  debate  the  matter  was  indefinitely  postponed.  But  it 
was  up  again  in  1845,  when  it  was  resolved  that  "since 
Christ  and  his  inspired  Apostles  did  not  make  the  holding 
of  slaves  a  bar  to  communion,  we,  as  a  Court  of  Christ,  have 
no  authority  to  do  so ;  since  they  did  not  attempt  to  remove 

J  See  "  Presbyterianism  and  Slavery,"  an  official  document  pub- 
lished for  the  use  of  the  General  Assembly  in  1836. 
2 Ibid.,  pp.  6-8. 

389]  Religious  Life.  73 

it  from  the  Church  by  legislation,  we  have  no  authority  to 
legislate  on  that  subject."  The  progress  of  the  slaves  could 
not  be  obtained  by  ecclesiastical  legislation  or  by  "indis- 
criminate denunciations  against  slaveholders,  without 
regard  to  their  character  or  circumstances."'  The  resolu- 
tion passed  by  168  to  13  votes.1  By  such  action  this  con- 
servative Church  put  off  its  division  till  the  war  was  actually 
at  hand.  This  relation  of  the  general  Church  to  slavery 
must  have  influenced  the  attitude  of  the  local  Church.  It 
no  doubt  kept  up  a  conservative  and  abiding  interest  in  the 
welfare  of  the  slave  on  the  part  of  the  Church  authorities. 
What  Henry  Evans  was  in  the  Methodist  Church  and 
Ralph  Freeman  in  the  Baptist,  John  Chavis  was  in  the 
Presbyterian  Church.  In  native  ability  he  was  no  doubt 
equal  to  either  of  the  other  two,  but  in  education  he  was 
superior  to  them.  He  was,  probably,  born  in  Granville 
County,  near  Oxford,  about  1763.  He  was  a  full-blooded 
negro  of  dark  brown  color.  He  was  born  free.  In 
early  life  he  attracted  the  attention  of  the  whites,  and  he  was 
sent  to  Princeton  College  to  see  if  a  negro  would  take  a 
collegiate  education.  He  was  a  private  pupil  under  the 
famous  Dr.  Witherspoon,  and-  his  ready  acquisition  of 
knowledge  soon  convinced  his  friends  that  the  experiment 
would  issue  favorably.  After  leaving  Princeton  he  went  to 
Virginia,  sent  thither,  no  doubt,  to  preach  to  the  negroes. 
In  1801  he  was  at  the  Hanover  (Virginia)  Presbytery,  "rid- 
ing as  a  missionary  under  the  direction  of  the  General 
Assembly."  In  1805,  at  the  suggestion  of  Rev.  Henry 
Patillo,  of  North  Carolina,  he  returned  to  his  native  State. 
For  some  cause,  I  know  not  what,  it  was  not  till  1809  that 
he  was  received  as  a  licentiate  by  the  Orange  Presbytery. 
Although  he  preached  frequently  to  the  regular  congrega- 
tions at  Nutbush,  Shiloh,  Island  Creek,  and  other  churches 
in  the  neighborhood,  I  do  not  find  that  he  was  called  to  a 
church  as  pastor.  Mr.  George  Wortham,  a  lawyer  of  Gran- 
tee "American  Slavery  as  Viewed  and  Acted  on  by  the  Presby- 
terian Church  in  America,"  by  Rev,  A.  T.  McGill,  1865. 

74  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [390 

ville  County,  said  in  1883  :  "I  have  heard  him  read  and  ex- 
plain the  Scriptures  to  my  father's  family  repeatedly.  His 
English  was  remarkably  pure,  containing  no  'negroisms;' 
his  manner  was  impressive,  his  explanations  clear  and  con- 
cise, and  his  views,  as  I  then  thought  and  still  think,  entirely 
orthodox.  He  was  said  to  have  been  an  acceptable  preacher, 
his  sermons  abounding  in  strong  common  sense  views  and 
happy  illustrations,  without  any  efforts  at  oratory  or  sensa- 
tional appeals  to  the  passions  of  his  hearers.  He  had  certainly 
read  God's  Word  much  and  meditated  deeply  on  it.  He  had 
a  small  but  select  library  of  theological  works,  in  which  were 
to  be  found  the  works  of  Flavel,  Buxton,  Boston,  and  others. 
I  have  now  two  volumes  of  "Dwight's  Theology,"  which 
were  formerly  in  his  possession.  He  was  said  by  his  old 
pupils  to  have  been  a  good  Latin  and  a  fair  Greek  scholar.  He 
was  a  man  of  intelligence  on  general  subjects  and  conversed 
well."  He  continued  to  preach  till  in  1831  the  Legislature 
forbade  negroes  to  preach.  It  was  a  trial  to  him  and  he 
appealed  to  the  Presbytery.  That  body  could  do  nothing 
more  than  recommend  him  "to  acquiesce  in  the  decision  of 
the  Legislature  referred  to,  until  God  in  his  providence  shall 
open  to  him  a  path  of  duty  in  regard  to  the  exercise  of  his 
ministry."  Acquiesce  he  did.  He  died  in  1838  and  the 
Presbytery  continued  to  his  widow  the  pension  which  it  had 
formerly  allowed  to  him. 

Mr.  Chavis'  most  important  work  was  educational. 
Shortly  after  his  return  to  North  Carolina  he  opened  a  class- 
ical school,  teaching  in  Granville,  Wake,  and  Chatham 
Counties.  His  school  was  for  the  patronage  of  the  whites. 
Among  his  patrons  were  the  best  people  of  the  neighbor- 
hood. Among'  his  pupils  were  Willie  P.  Mangum,  after- 
wards United  States  Senator,  and  Priestley  H.  Mangum,  his 
brother,  Archibald  and  John  Henderson,  sons  of  Chief  Jus- 
tice Henderson,  Charles  Manly,  afterwards  Governor  of  the 
State,  Dr.  James  L.  Wortham  of  Oxford,  N.  C,  and  many 
more  excellent  men  who  did  not  become  so  distinguished 
in  their  communities.     Rev.  James  H.  Horner,  one  of  the 

391]  Religious  Life.  75 

best  teachers  of  high  schools  the  State  has  produced,  said 
of  John  Clavis :  "My  father  not  only  went  to  school  to 
him  but  boarded  in  his  family  *  *  *  The  school  was 
the  best  at  that  time  to  be  found  in  the  State." 

All  accounts  agree  that  John  Chavis  was  a  gentleman. 
Mr.  Paul  C.  Cameron,  a  son  of  Judge  Duncan  Cameron, 
and  a  prominent  man  in  Orange  County,  said :  "In  my 
boyhood  life  at  my  father's  home  I  often  saw  John 
Chavis,  a  venerable  old  negro  man,  recognized  as  a 
freeman  and  as  a  preacher  or  clergyman  of  the  Presby- 
terian Church.  As  such  he  was  received  by  my  father 
and  treated  with  kindness  and  consideration,  and  respected 
as  a  man  of  education,  good  sense,  and  most  estimable 
character.  *  *  *  He  seemed  familiar  with  the  pro- 
prieties of  social  life,  yet  modest  and  unassuming,  and 
sober  in  his  language  and  opinions.  He  was  polite — yes, 
courtly;  but  it  was  from  his  heart  and  not  affected.  I 
remember  him  as  a  man  without  guile.  His  conversation 
indicated  that  he  lived  free  from  all  evil  or  suspicion,  seeking 
the  good  opinion  of  the  public  by  the  simplicity  of  his  life 
and  the  integrity  of  his  conduct.  If  he  had  any  vanity  he 
most  successfully  concealed  it.  *  *  *  I  write  of  him  as 
I  remember  him  and  as  he  was  appreciated  by  my  superiors, 
whose  respect  he  enjoyed."  The  same  gentleman  adds  that 
the  slaves  were  amazed  to  see  a  negro  receive  so  much 
respect  from  the  whites.  Others  have  confirmed  Mr.  Cam- 
eron's statement.1  From  a  source  of  the  greatest  respecta- 
bility I  have  learned  that  this  negro  was  received  as  an 
equal  socially  and  asked  to  table  by  the  most  respecta- 
ble people  of  the  neighborhood.  Such  was  the  position  of 
the  best  specimen  of  the  negro  race  in  North  Carolina  in 
the  days  before  race  prejudices  were  aroused.  It  goes  with- 
out saying  that  such  a  negro  would  not  receive  the  same 

2The  facts  here  given  were  collected  by  Dr.  Charles  Phillips,  of  the 
University  of  North  Carolina,  and  used  by  Dr.  C.  L.  Smith  for  the 
short  sketch  of  John  Chavis,  which  he  included  in  his  "History  of 
Education  in  North  Carolina,"  Washington,  D.  C,  1888,  pp.  138-140. 

76  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [392 

treatment  to-day.  That  such  is  true  is  due  to  that  strenuous 
state  of  feeling  which  preceded  and  followed  forcible  eman- 
cipation. So  much  the  cause  of  humanity  would  have  gained 
could  slavery  have  been  removed  by  reason ! 

In  1830  John  Clavis,  described  as  an  educated  colored 
Presbyterian  preacher,  was  teaching  a  school  for  free  col- 
ored children  in  Raleigh.  Joseph  Gales  attended  a  public 
examination  at  this  school  in  April,  1830,  and  said  in  his 
paper:  "It  was  an  example,  both  in  behavior  and  scholar- 
ship which  their  white  superiors  might  take  pride  in  imitat- 
ing." He  complimented  a  speech  in  which  Chavistold  his 
pupils  that  they  possessed  but  an  humble  station  in  life ; 
but  that  even  they  could  make  themselves  useful.1 

The  Protestant  Episcopal  Church  was  not  indifferent  to 
the  spiritual  welfare  of  the  slaves,  although  it  had  not  so 
many  slave  members  as  some  other  churches.  The  pro- 
portion is  indicated  for  1857,  as  follows :  Communicants, 
white  2341,  colored  345;  and  catechumens  (Sunday  School 
pupils),  white  1105  and  colored  488.  In  1858  it  was:  Com- 
municants, white  2364  and  colored  353 ;  and  catechumens, 
white  943  and  colored  351.  I  have  been  unable  to  find  full 
statistics  for  the  whole  time,  but  the  above  figures  show  the 
proportions  for  the  years  when  this  church  probably  had 
its  largest  number  of  members. 

Here  the  members  must  have  been  mostly  house  servants, 
since  the  Episcopalians  were  largely  slaveholders,  and  the 
2364  communicants  must  have  owned  many  thousands  of 
slaves.  Usually  the  colored  people  occupied  the  seats  reserved 
for  the  slaves,  as  in  other  churches.  Sometimes  there  were 
special  missions  for  the  slaves.  Capt.  T.  W.  Battle,  of  Edg- 
combe  County,  had  one,  but  discontinued  it  after  a  year 
because  the  slaves  took  no  interest  in  it.  Mr.  Josiah  Collins 
and  Rev.  W.  S.  Pettigrew  had  similar  enterprises  in  Wash- 
ington County,  and  there  seems  to  have  been  one  in  connec- 
tion with  the  church  at  Tarborough.2 

1  Raleigh  Register,  April  19,  1830. 

2  For  facts  here  mentioned  I  am  indebted  to  Dr.  K.  P.  Battle  of  the 
University  of  North  Carolina. 



Population. — At  the  outbreak  of  the  Revolution  there  were 
by  the  most  probable  estimate  36,000  colored  people  in 
North  Carolina.1  From  then  till  1790  no  facts  for  an  esti- 
mate have  come  under  my  observation.  From  the  latter 
date  till  i860  the  numbers  of  whites,  free  negroes  and  slaves, 
as  included  in  the  census  tables,  were  as  follows : 






































































From  this  table  it  is  seen  that  the  increase  of  the  whites 
was  slow,  being  normal  at  about  13^  per  cent.,  a  rate 
decidedly  slower  than  that  maintaining  since  the  war.  This 
slow  increase  is  no  doubt  due  largely  to  emigration  which 
took  off  many  of  the  non-slaveholding  farmers  to  the 
Northwest  and  many  of  the  slaveholders  to  the  far  South. 
The  latter  movement  was  strongest  from  1800  to  1840;  the 
former  from  1830  to  i860.  Where  the  two  overlapped, 
from  1830  to  1840,  the  population  was  well-nigh  stationary. 

1  See  "  Slavery  and  .Servitude  in  North  Carolina,"  p.  22. 


78  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [394 

The  number  of  free  negroes  depended  on  the  number  of 
emancipations  plus  the  natural  increase  in  the  free  negro 
families.  Emancipation  was  considerably  practiced  till  1820. 
After  that  the  laws  grew  harder  on  free  negroes.  Many  of 
them  left  the  State,  and  thus  the  increase  was  reduced. 
During  the  last  decade  of  slavery  this  increase  was  smaller 
than  ever  before,  and  had  slavery  endured  till  1870  it  would, 
no  doubt,  have  been  well-nigh   nothing. 

Of  the  slave  population  the  greatest  increase  was  from 
1790  to  1800,  when  the  slave  trade  was  still  allowed,  but 
after  this  source  of  increase  had  been  destroyed  there  is  a 
decided  falling  off.  The  remarkable  drop  from  1830  to  1840 
has  sometimes  been  attributed  to  an  erroneous  census.  If  the 
claim  be  true  then  it  is  still  true  that  the  increase  was  very 
small,  since  from  1830  to  1850  it  was  only  17.48  per  cent. 
In  the  days  when  many  whites  moved  to  Georgia  and  Ala- 
bama, and  other  cotton  States,  there  must  have  been  a  con- 
siderable drain  on  the  numbers  of  the  slave  population. 
But  later  on  when  the  great  demand  for  slaves  in  these  States 
had  raised  the  price  paid  for  them  a  great  many  more  were 
sent.  This  probably  accounts  for  the  slow  increase  in  the 
census  tables  after  1830. 

There  were  34,658  slaveholders  in  North  Carolina  in 
i860,  and  these  owned  in  all  331,059  slaves,  or  an  average  of 
9.6  to  each  owner.  In  Virginia  there  were  9.4  slaves  to 
each  owner,  and  in  South  Carolina  there  were  15.  For 
North  Carolina  there  had  been  from  1850  till  i860  a  lessen- 
ing of  the  number  of  slaves  to  an  owner,  since  it  was  in  1850 
10. 1  slaves  to  each  owner. 

Distribution. — In  the  colonial  period  the  eastern  counties 
had  most  of  the  slaves ;  but  throughout  the  period  of  state- 
hood the  West  acquired  continually  more  of  them.  It  never 
had  as  many  as  the  East,  but  along  the  upland  rivers,  and 
wherever  in  the  West. there  was  fertile  land,  there  the  large 
slave-tended  farm  was  found.  This  was  true  of  the  upper 
Roanoke  section  of  the  Yadkin,  and  of  other  river  sections. 
In  1790  there! were  in  ther  western  counties  30,068  slaves 

395]  Industrial  and  Social  Relations  of  Slavery.  79 

and  in  the  East  70,504.  In  i860  the  same  western  counties 
had  146,463  slaves  and  the  eastern  184,596.  In  the  West 
the  ratio  of  increase  in  seventy  years  was  387  per  cent., 
while  in  the  East  it  was  161  per  cent.  In  1790  there  were  in 
the  same  western  counties  136,655  whites,  and  in  i860  the 
number  was  385,724.  In  1790  the  same  eastern  counties 
had  151,549  whites,  and  in  i860  they  had  244,218.  Thus  it 
will  be  seen  that  for  these  seven  decades  the  ratio  for  the 
increase  of  the  whites  in  the  West  was  182  per  cent.,  and  for 
those  in  the  East  it  was  61  per  cent.1  Plainly  enough  the 
West  was  gaining  rapidly  on  the  East  in  regard  to  slave 
population.  This  was  partly  due  to  the  extension  of  the 
area  of  cotton  cultivation.  Counties  like  Mecklenberg, 
Anson  and  Union  were  properly  under  the  influence  of  the 
western  ideas  and  life  in  1790;  but  in  i860  they  were  great 
cotton  counties  and  largely  slaveholding.  Moreover,  in 
other  western  counties,  which  by  1800  were  past  the  pioneer 
stage,  there  grew  up  continually  numerous  wealthy  families. 
They  owned  slaves.  The  slaves  competed  with  the  small 
white  farmers.  Thus  there  began  slowly  that  process  by 
which  slavery  always  eats  out  all  the  life  of  a  free  yeomanry. 
The  small  farmers  sold  their  farms  and  moved  to  the 
Northwest,  the  slaveholders  bought  the  farms  and  consoli- 
dated landholding.  Had  slavery  continued  till  the  present 
time  some  wonderful  changes  would  have  taken  place  in  this 
part  of  the  State.  There  is  every  reason  to  believe  that 
besides  the  tobacco  industry,  which  might  profitably  have 
been  conducted  here,  this  would  have  become,  along  with 
parts  of  Virginia,  a  notable  breeding  ground  for  slaves  to  be 
sent  southward. 

The  progress  of  the  slave  population  in  the  State  could 
not  have  been  due  in  any  considerable  extent  to  importa- 

1  Of  course  the  selection  of  a  dividing  line  between  the  East  and  the 
West  is  a  matter  more  or  less  arbitrary,  but  the  change  of  a  dozen 
counties  along  this  line,  where  white  and  black  populations  remained 
relatively  constant,  would  make  no  appreciable  difference  in  the 
proportions  given  in  the  text. 

80  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [396 

tion.  Before  the  final  prohibition  of  the  foreign  slave  trade 
by  Congress  in  1808,  there  was  a  strong  feeling  against  it 
in  North  Carolina.  In  1774  the  Provincial  Congress  of  the 
colony  resolved  that  they  would  not  import  or  purchase 
any  slaves  brought  into  the  colony  after  November,  1774.1 
This  was  part  of  the  body  of  resolutions  by  the  first  Pro- 
vincial Congress,  and  was  due  as  much  to  the  desire  to 
retaliate  on  Great  Britain  as  to  opposition  to  the  slave 
trade.  How  well  this  resolution  was  executed  I  am  not 
able  to  say ;  but  it  was,  no  doubt,  often  violated ;  for,  in  1786 
(chap.  5),  the  Assembly  passed  a  law  the  preamble  of  which 
ran:  "Whereas,  The  importation  of  slaves  into  this  State 
is  productive  of  evil  consequences  and  highly  impolitic." 
In  accordance  with  this  patriotic  sentiment  40  shillings  was 
to  be  levied  on  each  imported  slave  under  seven  years  old  and 
over  forty,  and  £  5  on  those  from  seven  to>  twelve  and  from 
thirty  to  forty  years,  and  £10  en  those  from  twelve 
to  thirty  years.  This  duty  was  to  be  levied  whether 
the  slaves  were  imported  by  land  or  by  sea.  This  was 
aimed  avowedly  at  the  slave  trade,  and  exception  was  made 
in  favor  of  incoming  settlers  who  brought  slaves,  and  per- 
sons who  received  foreign  slaves  by  gift,  marriage  or  inheri- 
tance. Besides,  a  tax  of  £5  was  to  be  collected  on  all 
slaves  imported  directly  from  Africa.  A  further  section  pro- 
hibited the  introduction  into  the  State  of  slaves  from  the 
States  which  had  then  recently  liberated  their  slaves,  and 
directed  that  those  already  so  imported  should  be  sent  to 
the  places  whence  they  came.  The  motives  for  making  this 
law  I  can  know  only  inferentially.  There  seems  to  have 
been  behind  it  an  honest  desire  to  restrict  the  number  of 
slaves  in  North  Carolina,  and  a  purpose  to  protect  domestic 
slavery  from  the  disquieting  influence  of  the  more  unman- 
ageable slaves  from  Africa  and  the  West  Indies. 

The  public  opinion,  however,  soon  changed,  and  the  act 

'"Colonial    Records   of    North   Carolina,"    IX,    p.    1046.      Also 
"American  Archives,"  4th  series,  I,  p.  735. 

397J  Industrial  and  Social  Relations  of  Slavery.  81 

was  repealed  in  1790.  But  almost  immediately  there 
occurred  an  incident  which  secured  the  enactment  of  still 
severer  laws  against  the  slave  trade.  I  refer  to  the  Haytien 
outbreak,  which  occurred  in  1791.  These  outrages,  bad  as 
they  were,  were  exaggerated  in  American  minds  and  filled 
Southern  hearts  with  terror.1  In  1794  (chap.  2)  a  strict  law 
was  passed  forbidding  the  importation  of  slaves  or  indented 
colored  persons  under  a  penalty  of  £  100  fine.  This  law 
did  not  forbid  a  person  who  came  into  the  State  to  settle 
to  bring  his  slaves  with  him.  A  year  later  (Laws  of  1795, 
chap.  16)  it  was  provided  that  this  privilege  should  not 
apply  to  persons  coming  from  the  West  Indies,  the  Bahamas 
and  the  "southern  coast  of  America,"  if  the  imported 
negroes  were  over  fifteen  years  old. 

The  foreign  slave  trade  was  prohibited  by  Congress  from 
1808,  and  in  the  same  year  the  North  Carolina  Assembly 
repealed  its  law  of  1794.2  The  National  Statute  left  the 
disposition  of  the  illegally  imported  slaves  to  the  States  in 
which  they  should  be  taken  up.  The  North  Carolina 
Assembly  took  up  the  matter  in  1816  (chap.  12),  and  enacted 
that  such  slaves  should  be  sold  by  the  sheriff  for  the  use  of 
the  State,  one-fifth  to  go  to  the  informer.  This  law 
remained  in  force  till  the  war.3  This  National  Statute  could 
not  have  been  enforced  very  well,  if  at  all,  before  1816,  for 
the  law  of  that  year  provided  that  slaves  imported  into  the 
State  from  abroad  before  1816  and  the  descendants  of  the 
same  should  not  be  sold  according  to  this  law,  but  that  the 
owners  thereof  should  have  legal  titles  made  out  and  certi- 
fied by  the  sheriffs.  In  view  of  this  law  and  of  the  general 
loose  administration  of  the  National  Statute  in  the  South, 
it  is  safe  to  say  that  it  was  not  always  enforced  in  North 
Carolina  after  1816. 

xSee  Du  Bois:  "  Suppression  of  the  Slave  Trade,"  pp.  72  and  73. 
2 Laws  of  1808,  chap.  16. 

3 Revised  Statutes,  chap,  in,  sees.  1-6,  and  Revised  Code,  chap. 
107,  sees.  1-6. 

82  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [398 

As  to  the  prices  of  slaves  it  has  been  impossible  to  pro- 
cure any  trustworthy  evidence.  It  is  enough  to  call  atten- 
tion to  the  fact  that  the  opening  of  the  cotton  industry  with 
the  greater  demand  for  slaves  in  the  Gulf  States  continued 
to  advance  the  prices.  Slavery  became  more  profitable,  and 
North  Carolina  found  it  fixed  in  her  life  more  than  was 
formerly  expected.  It  has  already  been  pointed  out  how 
slavery  extended  itself  at  this  period  into  the  western 
counties  with  the  probable  reason  that  this  region  raised 
slaves  for  the  Southern  markets.  It  was  the  ever  acting  law 
of  economic  rent  applied  to  slaveholding.  As  the  price 
of  the  product  increased,  territory  that  was  formerly  below 
the  point  of  diminishing  returns  was  now  taken  within  the 
area  of  cultivation. 

The  Regulation  of  the  Slave's  Life.- — -Next  to  the  loss  of 
liberty  the  worst  evil  connected  with  slavery  was  the  fact 
that  it  left  the  welfare  of  the  slave  to  the  accidental  temper 
of  the  master.  If  the  latter  were  humane  and  intelligent 
the  slave  fared  well.  If  he  were  otherwise  the  slave  fared 
poorly.  A  correspondent  has  called  to  my  attention  the 
fact  that  a  master's  treatment  of  his  slaves  corresponded 
relatively  to  his  treatment  of  his  children:  good  father, 
good  master;  careless  or  cruel  father,  careless  or  cruel  mas- 
ter. There  were  all  kinds  of  masters  as  there  are  all  kinds 
of  fathers.  Some  undoubtedly  were  cruel ;  some  undoubt- 
edly were  wisely  humane;  many  were  neither  the  one  nor 
the  other,  but  gave  their  slaves  such  care  as  custom 
demanded,  just  as  many  men  clothe  and  train  their  chil- 
dren without  really  having  any  opinions  of  their  own  about 
the  matter. 

Of  the  slave-owners  there  were  the  holders  of  large  slave 
herds  and  the  holders  of  few  slaves.  Of  the  former  there  was 
the  cultured  class  of  planters  and  the  more  ordinary  class 
of  wealthy  farmers  about  which  I  have  already  spoken. 
The  gentleman  planter  type  was  not  so  numerous  in  North 
Carolina  as  elsewhere  in  the  South.  Such  masters  were 
often  absentee  landlords,  though  this  was  not  general  in 

399]  Industrial  and  Social  Relations  of  Slavery.  83 

the  State.  Here  their  relation  to  the  slaves  was  patriarchal. 
As  a  class  they  were  careful  of  the  slaves'  health  and  morals, 
and  philanthropic  students  of  the  theories  of  good  master- 
ship. The  wealthy  farmers  rarely  lived  away  from  their 
estates.  They  were  usually  religious.  They  were  thrifty  and 
honest.  Their  sons  worked  in  the  fields  along  with  the 
slaves,  sometimes  leading  the  plow  gang,  and  sometimes 
swinging  a  cradle  in  the  harvest.  Their  wives  superintended 
the  making  of  the  slave  clothing,  the  cooking  of  the  slave 
dinners,  and  the  nursing  of  the  slave  patients.  Here  the 
slave  fared  best,  and  this  class  was  strong  in  North  Carolina. 
It  extended  all  over  the  State,  and  was  extensively  found 
in  the  West.  The  lot  of  the  slave  who  belonged  to  the  owner 
of  few  slaves  might  be  bad — and  was  usually  not  good.  He 
was  frequently  overworked  or  underfed.  The  straitened 
condition  of  his  master,  often  not  an  enlightened  man,  was 
responsible  for  this. 

Next  to  the  master  the  overseer  was  the  most  important 
personage.  If  the  master  were  absent  his  powers  were 
great.  He  was  usually  a  white  man,  but  rarely  a  slave. 
Often  a  man  owned  several  plantations,  on  each  of  which 
he  would  place  an  overseer,  and  over  all  of  which  he  would 
keep  continual  oversight.  Overseers  were  of  two  classes. 
Those  on  large  plantations  must  be  men  of  intelligence  and 
men  who  could  take  care  of  slaves  as  property.  They  com- 
manded good  salaries,  often  getting  $100  a  month.  On  the 
smaller  plantations  inferior  men  were  employed,  and  the 
slaves  there  were  not  so  well  cared  for.  Here  an  overseer 
was  well  paid  at  from  $200  to  $400  a  year.  What  an  over- 
seer should  do  properly  to  fulfill  his  office  may  be  seen  in 
the  statement  of  a  master  in  De  Bozv's  Magazine  in  1856.1 
In  managing  negroes,  says  the  writer,  the  first  aim  of  the 
overseer  should  be  to  obey  the  instructions  of  the  master 
in  respect  to  them ;  the  second  to  satisfy  them  that  he  is 
doing  so.    He  should  always  allow  the  slave  easy  appeal  to 

'Vol.  21,  p.  277. 

84  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [400 

the  master,  and  not  to  do  so  must  be  due  to  bad  temper, 
false  dignity,  or  the  notion  that  the  slave  has  no  rights.  If 
a  slave  makes  a  false  complaint  he  should  be  punished  for 
it,  and  the  privilege  of  complaining  should  not  extend  to  mat- 
ters affecting  the  overseer's  character,  for  a  negro  may  not 
testify  against  a  white  man.  Some  overseers  declared  that 
no  negroes  should  complain  of  them,  and  that  if  they  did, 
they  (the  overseers)  would  whip  them  in  spite  of  the  masters. 
"This,"  exclaimed  the  writer,  "is  simply  brutal  and  no  man 
of  spirit  will  permit  it."  Still  it  is  bad  policy  not  to  punish 
a  slave  without  the  consent  of  the  master.  An  overseer 
should  be  kind  to  the  slaves,  speaking  in  a  low  tone,  but 
firmly.  Negroes  should  not  be  fretted  at,  for  it  injured  their 
capacity  for  work,  and  when  practiced  on  the  young  had 
been  known  to  lessen  their  value.  Fretting  also  injured  the 
overseer.  "The  habit  of  swearing  at  or  before  negroes  an 
overseer  should  never  indulge  in.  If  the  negro  is  not 
allowed  to  swear  because  it  is  disrespectful  to  the  over- 
seer, the  latter  should  not  swear  because  it  is  disrespectful 
to  his  Maker.  Besides,  it  shocks  some  pious  negroes  and 
sets  a  bad  example  to  them  all."  The  overseer  should  visit 
the  cabins  and  promote  cleanliness  there,  see  that  clothes 
and  shoes  are  repaired,  and  on  Sunday  he  should  require  all 
the  slaves  to  appear  in  clean  clothes.  He  should  rather 
encourage  their  taste  for  finery  than  ridicule  it.  He  should 
consult  with  the  old  men  about  the  work — some  of  them 
were  very  intelligent.  He  should  be  disposed  to  share  their 
labor.  "Nothing  more  reconciles  a  negro  to  his  work  than 
the  overseer  sharing  it  with  him.  Let  him  go  with  them 
in  heat,  rain  and  cold.  If  they  shuck  corn  at  night  let  him 
be  with  them."  Another  writer  in  the  same  magazine1 
declared  that  no  one  should  try  to  manage  slaves  who  had 
not  firmness,  fearlessness  and  self-control.  Punishment 
should  not  be  cruel.  "If  ever  any  of  my  negroes  are  cruelly 
and   inhumanely  treated,   bruised,   maimed,   or   otherwise 

lVol.  21,  pp.  617-620. 

401]  Industrial  and  Social  Relations  of  Slavery.  85 

injured,"  the  overseer  was  dismissed.  Each  place  was  to 
keep  enough  milch  cows  to  furnish  miik  for  the  slaves.  The 
overseer  must  care  for  the  sick,  especially  for  the  pregnant 
women.  Nurses  should  be  provided  for  the  sick,  and 
mothers  of  young  children  should  not  be  assigned  full  tasks. 
These  regulations  were  prepared  by  two  successful  farmers 
who  did  not  live  in  North  Carolina  yet  they  are  standards  for 
slavery  as  a  whole,  and  bring  to  us  vividly  the  office  of  the 
overseer.  Possibly  they  were  never  enforced  entirely.  Cer- 
tainly they  could  not  have  been  always  enforced,  but  there 
is  no  doubt  that  the  spirit  of  them  was  present  on  many 
plantations.  It  was  this  spirit  and  its  practical  realization 
in  many  ways  which  gave  some  foundation  to  the  claim 
that  the  master  provided  better  for  the  physical  wants  of 
the  slaves  than  the  freed  negro  provides  for  himself  in  the 
days  since  the  war.  The  claim  is  to-day  debatable,  but  it  is 
necessary  to  remember  that  physical  wants  are  not  the  chief 
thing  in  life.  i    :  '; 

I  have  been  able  to  get  the  following  account  of  slave 
life  on  a  rice  plantation  near  Wilmington,  N.  C.  My 
informant  is  a  son  of  the* gentleman  who  owned  the  place 
for  some  years  before  the  war,  and  in  his  young  manhood 
he  was  overseer  on  the  farm.  He  is  now  a  prosperous  physi- 
cian, and  I  have  every  reason  to  believe  that  his  informa- 
tion is  trustworthy.  He  says :  "There  were  about  one 
hundred  slaves  on  the  plantation.  They  were  called  at  dawn 
and  went  to  the  fields  under  the  care  of  drivers  at  sunrise. 
Two  meals  were  served  each  day,  one  at  9  a.  m.  and  one 
at  1  or  2  p.  m.  The  daily  allowance  of  food  was  one  quart 
of  meal,  which  was  given  from  March  1  till  October  1,  one- 
half  a  pound  of  meat,  and  one  pint  of  molasses  a  week  for 
each  adult.  Sweet  potatoes  were  given  from  October  to 
March  instead  of  meal,  and  peas  were  allowed  in  planting 
time.  There  was  a  regular  allowance  of  tobacco.  The 
meals  were  prepared  by  the  cooks  and  sent  to  the  field  ready 
cooked.  Milk  was  furnished  at  the  cook's  place.  The 
tasks  were  light,  and  most  of  them  were  finished  by  2  p.  m. 

86  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [402 

After  they  were  done  the  slaves  might  do  what  they  liked. 
They  usually  slept  or  went  fishing-.  Among  themselves  the 
slaves  were  immoral,  but,  generally  speaking,  there  were 
no  illicit  relations  between  them  and  the  white  men.  The 
white  boys  were  sometimes  intimate  with  the  housemaids. 
The  slaves  went  to  Sunday  School,  and  the  owners  of  this 
and  the  adjoining  farms  paid  a  Methodist  preacher  to 
preach  to  them  once  a  month."  But  my  informant  saw  but 
small  results  in  the  field  hands.  The  negroes  were  con- 
tented and  happy  among  themselves,  if  let  alone  by  out- 
side influences.  The  owner  always  counted  on  their  stealing 
and  took  no  notice  of  small  offenses.  They  were  not 
allowed  to  go-  off  the  plantation,  except  by  special  permis- 
sion. They  were  not  allowed  to  buy  whiskey,  but  occa- 
sionally the  master  would  give  it  to  them,  and  it  was  a  race 
trait  that  all  of  them,  men,  women  and  children,  liked  it. 
Under  the  care  of  his  owner  the  slave's  health  was  good, 
much  better  than  it  is  now.  Slave  mothers  frequently 
neglected  their  children,  while  for  the  children  of  the  whites 
they  manifested  great  affection.  This  last  point  is  often 
corroborated.  Said  another  gentleman  :  "I  have  often  seen 
the  slave  women  come  from  the  fields  to*  the  house  of  the  old 
woman  who  took  care  of  the  small  children  during  the  day, 
take  their  babies  in  their  arms,  nurse  them,  and  put  them 
down  without  the  least  show  of  affection." 

"Negro  slavery,"  continued  the  gentleman  whose  state- 
ments I  was  just  quoting,  "was  profitable  in  producing  rice, 
cotton  and  turpentine.  One  good  hand  could  thus  make 
in  rice  from  $300  to  $400  a  year  above  his  expenses,  and  in 
turpentine  he  could  make  as  much  as  $1000  a  year.  On  the 
farm  in  question  $10,000  a  year  was  cleared  in  bank  from 
the  rice  crop.  When  masters  made  no  profit  it  was  because 
the  negroes  were  not  properly  cared  for.  Few  of  the  old 
slaveholders  had  runaway  negroes.  These  negroes  usually 
afflicted  people  who  had  recently  begun  to  have  slaves,  par- 
ticularly Northern  men  who  had  married  and  settled  in  the 
South.     These  people  did  not  understand  the  negro,  and 

403]  Industrial  and  Social  Relations  of  Slavery.  87 

expected  too  much  from  him.  A  man  who  was  cruel  to  his 
negroes  was  not  highly  respected  in  the  community  by  the 
best  people.  An  evidence  of  the  solicitude  of  the  good  mas- 
ters for  their  slaves  was  the  difficulty  which  the  authorities 
experienced  in  getting  slaves  hired  to  them  to'  construct  forti- 
fications at  the  outbreak  of  the  war.  Masters  would  not  trust 
their  slaves  in  the  hands  of  the  officers.  Among  the  promi- 
nent characteristics  of  the  negro,"  concludes  my  informant, 
"were  no  gratitude,  no  resentment  and  a  deep  love  of  home." 
By  the  side  of  this  statement  I  am  fortunately  able  to  place 
the  account  of  slave  life  on  the  plantation  of  a  well-to-do 
farmer  of  the  central  part  of  the  State.  The  farmer  was  a 
well-known  Baptist  preacher,  and  the  account  is  from  his 
son,  who  is  now  a  respected  minister  in  the  same  church. 
The  locality  was  in  the  area  of  cotton  production,  and  on 
the  farm  were  from  forty  to  fifty  slaves.    The  narrator  says : 

I  never  saw  or  knew  [my  father]  to  whip  [a  slave]  save  sometime 
to  correct  a  child  for  some  evil,  and  then  the  whipping  was  light.  He 
never  overworked  them,  for  I  was  for  a  number  of  years  foreman  of 
eight  or  ten  plows.  They  started  to  work  when  I  started;  when  I 
rested  they  rested;  when  I  stopped  at  evening  they  stopped;  when  I 
got  a  holiday  they  got  one.  They  ate  what  I  ate,  though  at  different 
tables.  Never  a  day's  ration  was  issued  to  any  of  them.  They  were 
well  housed  and  were  allowed  to  use  all  the  firewood  they  needed 
from  the  same  yard  from  which  the  white  family  got  its  own  supply. 
They  were  well  shod  and  clothed,  wearing  the  same  kind  of  goods  I 
used  on  the  farm — all  home-made.  In  winter  all  the  slaves,  from 
the  youngest  to  the  oldest,  wore  woollens.  My  father  retained  two 
of  the  best  physicians  in  the  county  to  give  them  any  needed  atten- 
tion, the  same  as  his  family  had.  He  gave  each  year  to  each  slave 
large  enough  to  work  a  "patch  of  ground"  and  the  time  to  work  it,  in 
order  that  each  might  have  some  money  of  his  own  to  spend  as  he 
chose.  The  breeding  women  he  was  always  careful  should  never 
be  worked  too  hard  or  in  any  way  strained.  When  any  of  the  slave 
children  were  very  sick  they  were  brought  into  the  house  of  the 
white  family  and  there  attended  as  one  of  the  white  children.  He 
always  provided  for  them  to  go  to  church  on  Sunday,  allowing  them 
to  use  the  farm  teams  when  necessary.  They  were  invited  to  family 
prayers  in  the  room  of  my  parents.  He  often  urged  his  children  to 
read  the  Bible  to  them  in  their  own  houses,  for  each  slave  family  had 

88  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [404 

a  separate  home,  which,  in  the  main,  was  more  comfortable  than 
three-fourths  of  the  colored  people  now  have,  or  perhaps  nine-tenths 
of  them.  One  of  his  old  slaves  told  me  recently1  that  he  has  never 
been  as  happy  or  well  provided  for  since  he  has  been  free  as  he 
was  while  a  slave.  Much  more  I  could  say,  but  this  is  perhaps 
enough.  I  state  the  above  on  my  honor  as  a  Christian  minister. 
P.  S. — He  never  allowed  his  sons  to  whip  any  of  the  field  hands. 

In  a  further  communication  the  same  gentleman  says  of 
slavery  as  an  institution : 

It  never  paid  my  father,  only  by  the  increase  of  his  slaves.  His 
land  was  poor  and  this  may  have  been  the  reason  why  he  never  made 
any  money  by  it  only  as  above  stated.  He  never  kept  any  account 
of  debtor  and  creditor  in  running  his  farm.  I  was  very  well  acquainted 
over  the  county  in  ante  belluin  days  and  knew  of  but  one  or  two  par- 
ties who  failed  to  clothe  well  and  treat  well  their  slaves.  Those  par- 
ties, like  some  of  this  day,  never  had  a  good  set  of  harness,  or  good 
stock  or  farm  tools.  In  all  my  section  of  the  county  I  knew  of  no 
whites  who  did  not  own  some  land  and  have  their  own  homes.  I 
knew  but  one  free  negro,  a  woman,  and  she  lived  with  my  father. 
She  was  a  housemaid  and  worked  for  her  victuals  and  clothes. 

The  difference  between  the  conditions  of  slaves  in  North 
and  South  Carolina  is  illustrated  graphically  in  the  follow- 
ing statement  of  a  negro  whom  Mr.  Olmsted  met  in  South 
Carolina  about  1855. 2  The  negro  was  free,  and  with  his 
son  had  come  from  Rockingham  County,  N.  C,  to  peddle 
out  two  wagon  loads  of  tobacco  in  eastern  South  Carolina. 
Said  the  old  man  in  the  course  of  the  conversation : 

"Fac'  is,  master,  'pears  like  wite  folks  doan  ginerally  like  niggars 
in  dis  country;  dey  doan  ginerally  talk  so  to  niggars  like  as  do  in  my 
country;  de  niggars  ain't  so  happy  heah;  'pears  like  the  wite  folks  is 
kind  o'  different,  somehow." 

"Well,  I've  been  thinking  myself  the  niggers  did  not  look  so  well 
here  as  they  did  in  North  Carolina  and  Virginia;  they  are  not  so  well 
clothed,  and  they  don't  appear  so  bright  as  they  do  there." 

"Well,  massa,"  was  the  answer,  "Sundays  dey  is  mighty  well 
clothed,  dis  country;  'pears  like  dere  ain't  nobody  looks  better  Sun- 
days dan  dey  do.     But,  Lord  !  working  days,  seems  like  dey  had  no 

1  This  narrative  was  sent  me  in  1896. 

2 "Journey  to  the  Seaboard  Slave  States,"  pp.  389-393. 

405]  Industrial  and  Social  Relations  of  Slavery.  89 

close  dey  could  keep  on  'em  at  all,  master.  Dey  is  almost  naked 
wen  dey's  at  work,  some  un  'em.  Why,  master,  up  in  our  country 
de  wite  folks,  why  some  un  'em  has  ten  or  twelve;  dey  doan  hev  no 
real  big  plantations  like  dey  has  heah,  but  some  un  'em  has  ten  or 
twelve  niggars,  maybe,  and  dey  juss  lives  and  talks  along  wid  'em. 
If  dey  gits  a  niggar  and  he  doan  behave  himself,  dey  won't  keep  him; 
dey  juss  tell  him,  sar,  he  must  look  up  anudder  master,  and  if  he  doan 
find  himself  one,  I  tell  'ou,  wen  the  trader  cum  along,  dey  sell  him 
and  he  totes  him  away.  Dey  always  sell  off  all  de  bad  niggars  out 
of  our  country;  dat's  de  way  all  de  bad  niggar  and  all  dem  no-account 
niggar  keep  a  comin'  down  heah;  dat's  de  way  on't,  master." 

To  this,  which  is  offered  only  for  what  it  is  worth,  add  the 
statement  of  Mr.  Olmsted  himself:  "So  far  as  I  have 
observed,"  he  says,  "slaves  show  themselves  worthy  of  trust 
most  where  their  masters  are  most  considerate  and  liberal 
to  them.  Far  more  so,  for  instance,  on  the  small  farms  in 
North  Carolina  than  on  the  plantations  of  Virginia  and 
South  Carolina."1 

Here  we  have  three  pictures,  more  or  less  complete,  of 
slave  life  ( i )  on  a  fertile  farm  in  the  East,  under  conditions 
of  extensive  farming,  (2)  on  a  large  farm  in  the  central  part 
of  the  State,  and  (3)  on  the  small  farms  of  the  western  part 
of  the  State.  I  must  believe  that  each  picture  is  given  fairly, 
so  far  as  it  goes.  All  show  that  slavery  in  North  Carolina 
was  not  so  harsh  as  elsewhere.  To  this  conclusion  I  may 
add  the  positive  evidence  of  Mr.  Olmsted.  He  says :  "The 
aspect  of  North  Carolina  with  regard  to  slavery  is,  in  some 
respects,  less  lamentable  than  that  of  Virginia.  There  is  not 
only  less  bigotry  upon  the  subject  and  more  freedom  of 
conversation,  but  I  saw  here,  in  the  institution  more  of  the 
patriarchal  than  in  any  other  State.  The  slave  more 
frequently  appears  as  a  family  servant — a  member  of  his 
master's  family,  interested  with  him  in  the  fortune,  good  or 
bad.  This  is  the  result  of  less  concentration  of  wealth  in 
families  or  individuals  *  *  *  Slavery  thus  loses  much 
of  its  inhumanity.     It  is  still  questionable,  however,  if,  as 

1 "  Journey  to  the  Seaboard  Slave  States,"  p.  447. 

90  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [406 

the  subject  race  approaches  civilization,  the  dominant  race 
is  not  proportionately  detained  in  its  progress."1 

I  am  able  also  to  publish  the  following  from  a  gentleman 
of  great  intelligence  and  humanity,  who  was  intimately 
connected  by  birth  and  association  with  the  most  prominent 
people  of  the  State.    He  says : 

I  did  not  like  the  institution  of  slavery,  but  I  wish  you  to  know  : 
(i)  That  while  the  laws  were  severe  the  natural  amiability  of  the 
people  tempered  the  administration  of  them.  I  never  whipped  a 
grown  up  slave  in  my  life,  nor  did  my  father,  nor  brothers;  and  such 
families  were  the  rule  and  not  the  exception.  Nor  did  I  ever  witness 
any  of  the  scenes  of  barbarity  so  much  spoken  of.  Although  a  large 
slaveholder,  and  raised  among  slaveholders,  I  never  saw  a  grown 
person  punished  in  my  life.  By  grown  person  I  mean  fifteen  and 
sixteen  years  old  and  upwards.  The  separation  of  husband  and  wife, 
parent  and  young  child,  were  not  common.  My  family  never  did  it, 
nor  did  any  of  the  families  known  to  me,  and  I  am  sure  that  the 
great  majority   of    families   in    North    Carolina  would  not  allow  it. 

(2)  To  balance  the  cases  of  barbarity  I  wish  you  to  remember  that 
the  wives  and  other  dependents  of  slaves  were  protected  by  the 
owners  from  brutality  on  the  part  of  their  slave-husbands,  etc.  The 
awful,  horrible  brutality  of  drunken  husbands  and  fathers  as  seen  in 
England,  and  the  cities  of  the  North  was  not  allowed  in  the  South. 

(3)  You  should  not  attribute  to  slaves  the  fine  feelings  of  whites. 
They  had  recently  been  savages.  Separation  of  children  from 
parents,  etc.,  was  not  to  them  what  it  is  to  whites.  But  there  was  in 
practice  no  more  separation  than  in  New  England  families,  whose 
children  as  a  rule  scatter  over  the  whole  face  of  the  earth.  (4)  The 
sum  of  misery  was  no  greater  among  them  practically  than  among 
the  laboring  classes  in  free  countries.  You  may  not  believe  all  this, 
but  I  hope  that  it  will  be  within  your  plan  to  mention  that  slave- 
owners claim  this. 

On  the  subject  of  mulattoes  the  same  correspondent  writes: 
The  number  of  mulattoes  must  not  be  held  to  prove  correspond- 
ing licentiousness  on  the  part  of  the  whites.  Many  of  them  were 
descended  from  Indians  and  many  were  descended  from  mulattoes 
lawfully  married.  *  *  *  The  mulattoes  were  employed  in  towns 
and  were  hence  more  observed.  I  have  seen  great  plantations  with 
not  one  of  them — all  black. 

If  I  were  defending  a  side  in  the  never  ended  controversy 
about  the  treatment  of  slaves  by  their  masters,  it  would  only 

1  "Journey  to  the  Seaboard  Slave  States,"  p.  367. 

407]  Industrial  and  Social  Relations  of  Slavery.  91 

be  necessary  to  point  out  here  that  the  essence  of  the  misery 
of  slavery  in  the  South  and  elsewhere  was  not  physical 
suffering,  however  frequently  or  infrequently  that  may  have 
occurred,  but  the  mental  and  spiritual  wretchedness  that 
follow  a  loss  of  liberty.  If  you  deny  the  rights  of  man  to 
the  negro  slaves  you  cut  the  heart  out  of  the  anti-slavery 
argument.  By  the  side  of  the  above  testimony  I  shall  place 
some  statements  from  an  unpublished  book1  of  Dr.  Eli  W. 
Caruthers,  of  Greensboro,  N.  C,  well  known  as  the  author  of 
some  valuable  volumes  relating  to  the  history  of  the  State. 
For  events  he  claimed  to  know  about  he  was  the  best  kind  of 
authority.  Speaking  of  beating  slaves  cruelly,  he  said:  "I 
have  known  a  number  [of  instances]  myself  in  which 
nobody  in  the  neighborhood  had  any  doubt  that  the  death 
of  the  slave  was  caused  by  the  severity  of  his  treatment,  but 
no  attempt  was  made  to  punish  the  cruel  perpetrators  of  the 
deeds."2  The  conjugal  and  parental  instincts  in  the  slaves 
were  lessened  on  account  of  the  frequent  breaking  of  family 
ties  by  masters.  "I  have  known  some  instances,"  said  he, 
"in  which  [the  slave  family]  have  been  permitted  to  live  on 
in  great  harmony  and  affection  to  an  advanced  age,  but 
such  instances,  so  far  as  my  observations  have  gone,  have 
been  'like  angels'  visits,  few  and  far  between.'  Generally,  in 
a  few  weeks  at  most,  they  have  been  separated,  sold  off 
under  the  hammer  like  other  stock  and  borne  away  to  a 
returnless  distance."3  An  evil  result  of  this  condition  of 
affairs  was  that  the  negroes  did  not  regard  marriage  as 
strictly  as  they  ought.  They  married  carelessly  and 
separated  easily.  The  result  was  much  licentiousness.  A 
few  Christian  owners  did  what  they  could  to  prevent  the 
separation  of  their  married  slaves,  but  after  their  death,  if 
not  before,  the  slaves  were  sold  for  debt  or  to  satisfy  less 
scrupulous  heirs.4     In  his  own  congregation  was  an  excel- 

J"  American  Slavery  and  the  Immediate  Duty  of  Slaveholders." 
See  the  author's  "Anti-Slavery  Leaders,"  p.  56. 
2 Ibid.,  p.  282.  3 Ibid.,  p.  299.  iIbid.,  p.  307. 

92  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [408 

lent  man  and  wife,  both  slaves,  who  were  very  fond  of  one 
another  and  of  their  children.  Their  master  died  in  debt. 
Their  eldest  daughter  was  sold  to  a  speculator,  and  other 
children  were  also  sold.  The  honest  parents  were  heart- 
broken and  succumbed  under  their  sorrow.  "I  could  fill 
a  volume  with  similar  instances,"  exclaimed  the  indignant 

From  an  intelligent  gentleman,  who  was  a  large  planter 
in  the  eastern  part  of  the  State,  I  have  the  following : 

Slaves  were  generally  fed  three  times  a  day;  but  I  knew  several 
men  who  fed  only  twice  a  day.  I  practised  medicine  on  many  plan- 
tations and  never  found  negroes  that  were  so  badly  fed  that  it  inter- 
fered with  my  treatment.  A  few  people  stinted  their  children  and 
their  slaves  also.  Usually  the  slave  fared  as  well  as  the  child, 
relatively  speaking.  If  any  difference  was  made  it  was  in  favor  of 
the  slave,  who  was  property.  I  knew  a  few  people  who  treated  slaves 
badly.  Such  masters  were  brutal  by  nature.  The  morality  of  the 
negro  was  greater  then  than  now.  One  fault,  however,  was  the 
putting  of  more  than  one  family  into  one  room.  This  was  not 
unusual  on  plantations.  The  profit  to  the  employer  of  the  labor  of 
the  slave  was  perhaps  greater  than  that  of  the  negro  freeman  to-day. 
The  negro  pays  in  a  region  where  the  ground  has  to  be  stirred  steadily; 
but  he  does  not  pay  in  a  grass  or  grain  country.  He  has  not  enough 
of  the  faculty  of  direction  for  the  latter.  The  negro  does  not  want 
or  need  free  circulation  of  air  in  his  living  quarters.  As  a  rule  he 
sleeps  in  badly  ventilated  apartments  and  seems  to  suffer  no  ill  effects. 
This  is  a  conclusion  from  my  experience  as  a  physician.  They 
always  sleep  with  their  heads  covered  up.  Nearly  all  like  the  taste 
of  whiskey. 

From  the  same  source  I  am  able  to  give  an  incident, 
piteous  as  it  is,  but  which  from  the  trustworthy  and  direct 
source  from  which  it  comes  to  me  I  am  not  able  to  doubt. 
It  illustrates  most  touchingly  the  hardships  which  came 
from  breaking  the  Africans  into  slavery.  About  the  begin- 
ning of  this  century  when  the  large  Collins  plantation  on 
Lake  Phelps,  Washington  County,  was  being  cleared  a  num- 
ber of  negroes  just  from  Africa  were  put  on  the  work.    One 

1  "American  Slavery  and  the  Immediate  Duty  of  Slaveholders." 
See  the  author's  "Anti-Slavery  Leaders,"  pp.  308  and  310. 

409]  Industrial  and  Social  Relations  of  Slavery.  93 

of  the  features  of  the  improvement  was  the  digging  of  a 
canal.  Many  of  the  Africans  succumbed  under  this  work. 
When  they  were  disabled  they  would  be  left  by  the  bank  of 
the  canal,  and  the  next  morning  the  returning  gang  would 
find  them  dead.  They  were  kept  at  night  in  cabins  on  the 
shore  of  the  lake.  At  night  they  would  begin  to  sing  their 
native  songs,  and  in  a  short  while  would  become  so  wrought 
up  that,  utterly  oblivious  to  the  danger  involved,  they  would 
grasp  their  bundles  of  personal  effects,  swing  them  on  their 
shoulders,  and  setting  their  faces  towards  Africa,  would 
march  down  into  the  water  singing  as  they  marched  till 
recalled  to  their  senses  only  by  the  drowning  of  some  of 
the  party.  The  owners  lost  a  number  of  them  in  this  way, 
and  finally  had  to  stop  the  evening  singing.  This  incident 
was  related  to  my  informant  by  the  gentleman  who  was 
overseer  on  this  plantation  when  the  incident  occurred. 




Slave  Conspiracies. — The  possibility  of  slave  insurrections 
was  a  source  of  the  greatest  solicitude  to  the  Southern 
whites.  This  was  heightened  about  the  close  of  the  last 
century  by  the  Haytien  outbreak  and  by  the  Nat  Turner 
attempt  in  183 1.  Probably  the  slaves  as  a  body  were  more 
rebellious  a  century  ago,  when  many  of  them  were  fresh 
from  African  freedom,  and  probably  the  whites  as  time 
passed  knew  better  how  to  keep  the  slave  from  rebellion. 
Certain  it  is  that  after  the  early  decades  of  the  nineteenth 
century  there  were  no  attempts  at  conspiracy  among  the 
North  Carolina  negroes. 

After  the  reported  conspiracy  in  Beaufort  County,  just 
before  the  Revolution,  no  further  trouble  is  reported  till 
1802.  In  that  year  the  extreme  northeastern  part  of  the 
State  was  thrown  into  paroxysms  of  terror  by  reports  of  a 
slave  insurrection.  It  is  difficult  to  say  just  what  was  the 
extent  oi  the  danger  there.  The  insurrection  was  at  first 
reported  to  have  gone  through  the  counties  of  Camden, 
Currituck,  Pasquotank,  Perquimons,  Chowan,  Hertford, 
Martin,  Bertie,  Beaufort  and  Washington.  At  some  places 
the  slaves  were  reported  to  have  done  great  havoc,  though 
no  definite  acts  of  outrage  were  mentioned.  Eighteen 
negroes  were  reported  to  have  been  executed  and  a  large 
number  to  have  been  arrested.  After  awhile  it  was  realized 
that  "various  extravagant  and  unfounded  reports,"  as  the 
Raleigh  Register1  put  it,  had  been  circulated.     On  July  27, 

'June  1,  2.2  and  29,  1802. 

411]         The  Triumph  of  the  Pro-Slavery  Sentiment.  95 

1802,  this  paper  published  a  full  story  of  the  affair  by  a 
reliable  witness.  It  appears  that  in  May  of  this  year  a  report 
came  to  be  circulated  that  the  negroes  were  about  to  revolt. 
All  those  who  were  strongly  suspected  were  arrested. 
Excitement  ran  high,  and  mob  violence  was  averted  with 
difficulty.  The  negroes  were  at  length  frightened  into  con- 
fession. They  admitted  that  June  10  had  been  set  for  the 
beginning  of  a  general  insurrection,  and  that  they  were 
threatened  with  death  if  they  revealed  it,  or  if  they  did  not 
join  it.  On  the  night  of  the  tenth  they  were  to  form  into 
groups  of  seven  or  eight,  fire  the  houses  of  the  whites,  kill 
the  white  males  over  six  years  old,  kill  the  women,  black 
and  white,  except  the  young  and  handsome  white  women, 
who  were  to  be  kept  for  wives,  and  the  young  negro  women, 
who  were  to  be  kept  for  waitresses.  After  finishing  in  the 
country  they  were  to  go  to  Plymouth,  N.  C,  where  they 
expected  reinforcements,  and  where  the  work  of  destruction 
was  to  be  continued.  A  few  arms  were  deposited  in  the 
swamps,  and  they  expected  to  get  others.  They  had  been 
told  by  their  leaders  that  the  rising  would  cover  the  whole 
country.  The  leaders  were  obstinate,  but  after  much  whip- 
ping they  confessed  to  the  conspiracy.  Two  of  them  were 
executed,  and  the  others  were  whipped  and  sent  to  their 
homes.  How  a  whole  State  might  be  terrified  by  such 
reports  as  were  then  in  the  air  is  seen  by  the  fact  that  false 
alarms  were  given  in  Halifax  and  Franklin  Counties,  and  in 
the  former  a  negro  was  tried  and  convicted,  but  the  com- 
munity soon  recovered  from  its  shock,  and  both  whites  and 
blacks  joined  to  petition  the  Governor  to  pardon  him.1 

In  1805  an  outbreak  of  a  similar  kind  was  reported  in 
Wayne  County,  about  which  a  correspondent  wrote  to  the 
Register2  as  follows  :  "We  have  been  engaged  in  this  county 
in  the  trying  of  negroes  for  poisoning  the  whites  ever  since 
Monday  last.     One  suffered  death  at  the  stake  (was  burnt 

1  Raleigh  Register,  August  10,  17  and  24,  li 
''■Ibid.,  July  23  and  August  13,  1805. 

96  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [412 

alive)  on  Saturday  last,  for  poisoning  her  master,  mistress 
and  two  others.  Two  more  are  under  sentence  of  death,  and 
are  to  be  hanged  on  next  Wednesday."  Thirteen,  it  was 
said,  were  in.  prison,  but  some  of  them  had  been  brought 
from  Sampson  and  Johnston  Counties.  The  accused  con- 
fessed that  the  plan  was  to  kill  the  chief  white  men,  and  to 
keep  the  others  in  slavery.  Later  advices  stated  that  one 
more  negro  was  executed  besides  the  two  mentioned,  and 
others  had  lesser  punishments,  as  whipping,  pillorying, 
transporting  and  cropping  the  ears.  In  neither  of  these 
outbreaks,  it  will  be  noticed,  is  there  mention  of  Northern 
emissaries.  Whatever  plan  there  was  among  the  negroes 
was  probably  due  either  to  their  own  suggestion  or  to  some 
negro  who  came  in  from  the  West  Indies.  Either  source 
was  not  improbable.  There  must  have  been  then,  and  per- 
haps always,  a  large  number  of  stronger  minded  slaves  who 
resented  their  situation.  Of  this  class  was  one,  "Yellow 
Jack,"  who  was  advertised  in  1812  as  a  runaway,  who  had 
been  overheard  to  say  that  "all  should  be  free,  and  that  he 
saw  no  reason  why  the  sweat  of  his  brow  should  be 
expended  in  supporting  the  extravagance  and  idleness  of 
any  man,"  or  words  to  that  effect.1 

In  1822  there  was  a  slave  rising  in  Charleston,  S.  C,  in 
which  Denmark  Vesey  figured  a^  leader.  It  had  no  effect 
on  the  slaves  of  North  Carolina,  much  to  the  relief  of  the 
whites  there.2  Eut  in  1821  there  had  been  trouble  of  some 
kind  in  Jones  County.  The  militia  was  called  out,  and  in 
1823  the  Assembly  allowed  its  claim  for  services.  The 
Nat  Turner  insurrection  of  1831  aroused  great  feeling  in  the 
State,  and  this  was  chiefly  responsible  for  the  state  of  terror 
that  possessed  the  adjacent  counties  immediately  thereafter, 
when  news  was  circulated  of  a  similar  conspiracy  in  Samp- 
son and  Duplin.  The  terror  spread  as  far  as  Wake,  and 
even  Raleigh  was  put  into  a  state  of  defense,  even  the  old 

1  Raleigh  Register,  June  5,  1812. 

2 Ibid.,  August  20,  and  September  6,  13  and  1822. 

413]         The  Triumph  of  the  Pro-Slavery  Sentiment.  97 

men  past  the  militia  age  volunteering  for  service.  Johnston 
County  called  on  Raleigh  for  ammunition  and  received  a 
supply.  The  report  stated  that  seventeen  families  had  been 
murdered  by  the  slaves.  When  it  was  reported  in  Hills- 
borough that  Raleigh  was  in  imminent  danger  the  former 
place  at  once  raised  a  military  company  and  sent  it  to  the 
latter.  On  careful  investigation  the  reports  were  found  to 
have  been  much  exaggerated.  It  seems  that  a  free  negro 
had  revealed  a  concerted  plan  in  Duplin,  Sampson,  New 
Hanover,  Wayne  and  Lenoir  Counties  for  the  negroes  to 
rise  on  October  4,  183 1,  march  to  Wilmington,  where  they 
expected  to  get  arms  and  recruits.  Whatever  plan  there 
was,  no  whites  were  harmed.  Twelve  alleged  leaders  were 
taken  and  shot,  and  three  others  were  hanged  in  Duplin, 
and  the  people  were  restored  to  confidence.  In  Wilming- 
ton the  excitement  had  been  painful.  At  one  time  it  was 
reported  that  the  infuriated  blacks  had  reached  a  point  two 
miles  from  the  city.  The  whole  available  population  was 
put  under  arms.1  When  men  were  so  carried  away  by  the 
prevailing  fear  as  to  credit  such  reports  as  the  latter  it 
was  not  unlikely  that  some  of  their  judgments  were  wrong. 
I  have  it  on  the  authority  of  the  son  of  the  man  who  was  at 
that  time  sheriff  of  Sampson  County  that  the  negroes  exe- 
cuted for  this  crime  there  were  innocent,  and  that  he  had 
often  heard  his  father  say  as  much.  This  was  the  last 
attempted  slave  insurrection,  so  far  as  I  have  been  able  to 
learn,  in  North  Carolina.  It  is  singular  that  we  find  no 
more  periods  of  terror  from  reported  slave  insurrections 
after  the  triumph  of  the  pro-slavery  element.  It  would  be 
interesting  to  know  whether  or  not  these  frights  were  of 
political  origin. 

The  Growth  of  the  Pro-Slavery  Sentiment, — Intimately 
connected  with  the  reported  slave  conspiracies  was  the 
growth  of  a  stronger  pro-slavery  sentiment.  Each  period  of 
excitement  tended  to  weaken  the  arms  of  those  who  hoped 

Raleigh  Register,  October  15  and  21,  1831. 

98  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [414 

for  final  emancipation.  It  has  been  said  that  the  Nat  Turner 
insurrection  and  the  active  campaigns  of  Garrison  and  his 
associates  turned  the  South  into  pro-slavery  advocates. 
The  statement  is  but  partly  true.  The  process  of  change  in 
sentiment  had  begun  some  time  before,  and  these  events 
only  hastened  its  culmination. 

There  was  for  some  years  before  1831  a  considerable  pro- 
slavery  sentiment  which  made  its  presence  felt  in  the  Legis- 
lature. It  was  strongest  in  the  East  where  there  were  more 
slaves.  Opposed  to  it  were  the  western  counties.  As  they 
became  more  and  more  slaveholding,  the  non-slaveholding 
element  leaving  largely  for  the  Western  States,  the  pro- 
slavery  faction  was  strengthened.  They  were,  moreover, 
a  party  of  action  and  they  drew  young  men.  Those  who 
hoped  for  emancipation  had  no  plan  of  action.  They  only 
awaited  for  some  door  to  be  opened  to  effect  their  hopes. 
They  could  not  approve  of  the  procedure  of  the  abolition- 
ists in  the  North.  They  realized  that  latent  public  opinion 
in  the  South  was  such  that  it  would  be  folly  to  argue  against 
slavery  on  the  grounds  of  the  rights  of  man.  The  half- 
hearted opposition  they  could  make  had  no  chance  against 
the  fervid  arguments  of  the  convinced  and  enthusiastic 
supporters  of  slavery. 

The  steps  by  which  the  pro-slavery  minority  was  con- 
verted into  a  majority  are  obvious.  In  1818  Mr.  Mears,  of 
New  Hanover,  introduced  a  bill  to  prohibit  the  teaching 
of  slaves  to  read  and  write.  It  was  lost  on  the  second  read- 
ing.1 A  year  later  a  similar  bill  was  unanimously  rejected.2 
In  1825  a  bill  to  prevent  the  escape  of  slaves  by  assuming 
the  privileges  of  free  negroes  was  indefinitely  postponed. 
In  1825  free  negroes  were  required  to  have  license  from  the 
county  justices  to  live  in  Raleigh.  Licenses  were  given  to 
those  only  who  could  prove  good  character.3  In  the  same 
year  the  Governor  in  his  annual  message  referred  sarcasti- 

1  Raleigh  Register,  December  18,  1818. 

2 Ibid.,  December  10,  1819.  3 Ibid.,  February  18,  1825. 


415]         The  Triumph  of  the  Pro-Slavery  Sentiment.  99 

cally  to  resolutions  of  the  Ohio  Legislature  in  regard  to 
abolition  in  the  Southern  States.  He  appreciated  the  inter- 
est of  the  non-slaveholders,  but  hoped  they  would  "shortly 
learn  and  practice  what  has  familiarly  been  termed  the 
Eleventh  Commandment,  'Let  every  one  attend  to  his  own 
concerns.'  "x  In  the  same  year  a  bill  to  restrain  improper 
conversation  between  mulattoes  and  free  negroes  on  the 
subject  of  freedom  was  lost  in  committee.2  Another  bill  to 
prevent  the  education  of  slaves,  a  bill  to  prevent  free  negroes 
from  migrating  to  North  Carolina  and  a  bill  to  forbid 
emancipation  societies  were  introduced  but  lost,  the  second 
by  a  vote  as  close  as  56  to  47.3  Evidently  the  pro-slavery 
men  were  in  earnest.4 

The  matter  became  graver  in  1826.  In  his  message  the 
Governor  referred  to  a  petition  from  the  Vermont  Legislature 
to  the  North  Carolina  government  praying  for  the  abolition 
of  slavery.  The  Northern  agitation,  he  thought,  "demanded 
from  us  a  sleepless  vigilance."  He  recommended  revision 
of  the  laws  relating  to  the  militia,  to  the  patrol,  and  to  the 
immigration  of  free  negroes.5  A  warm  debate  followed  in 
the  Senate.  Mr.  Speight,  of  Greene,  was  particularly  bel- 
ligerent. "As  a  North  Carolinian  he  felt  that  he  was  being 
imposed  upon,  and  that  there  was  an  improper  attempt  to 
dictate  to  the  Southern  States  in  what  manner  they  should 
govern  their  own  property ;  and  before  he  would  tamely 
acquiesce  in  any  infringements  of  his  rights  in  this  par- 

1  Raleigh  Register,  November  29,  1825. 

2 Ibid.,  December  6,  1825. 

3 Ibid.,  December  30,  1825,  and  January  3,  1826. 

*  It  is  curious  to  read  the  estimate  of  the  North  Carolina  Manumission 
Society  in  1825,  as  to  the  sentiment  of  the  people  of  the  State  on  the  ques- 
tion of  emancipation.  They  said  that  -fa  of  the  people  wanted  immediate 
emancipation,  fa  wanted  gradual  emancipation,  -fa  wanted  emigra- 
tion, fa  were  totally  indifferent,  f§  were  ready  to  support  schemes  of 
emancipation,  fa  opposed  emancipation  because  impracticable,  and 
fa  were  bitterly  against  it.  See  Weeks:  "Southern  Quakers  and 
Slavery,"  p.  241. 

5  Raleigh  Register,  December  29,  1826. 

100  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [416 

ticular  he  would  destroy  the  constitution,  law  and  every- 
thing most  dear  to  him."  He  favored  referring  the  matter 
to  a  committee.  Mr.  Forney,  of  Lincoln,  counseled  modera- 
tion. "There  was,"  he  said,  "a  good  deal  of  sensibility 
excited  whenever  this  subject  was  mentioned,  and  a  dispo- 
sition was  felt  to  take  umbrage  when  no  offense  was 
intended."  The  Senate  referred  the  matter  to  a  committee, 
but  with  what  result  does  not  appear.1  In  the  Assembly  of 
1827-28  there  were  several  bills  in  regard  to  minor  features 
of  the  slave  controversy,  but  none  passed.  In  1828-29  a 
bill  was  introduced  to  prohibit  the  education  of  slaves  and 
on  the  recommendation  of  the  Judiciary  Committee  it  was 
rejected.  Both  here  and  in  the  following  year  other  bills 
were  introduced  to  restrict  the  activity  of  slaves,  but  they 
failed  to  pass.  It  was  only  when  the  Governor  sent  in  to 
the  Assembly  a  copy  of  an  inflammatory  circular  found  in 
North  Carolina  and  in  other  States,  that  passion  rose  to 
summer  heat  again.  Slavery,  said  the  Governor  in  his 
message,  was  a  fixity,  and  "it  would  be  criminal  in  the 
Legislature  to  attempt  to  avoid  any  responsibility  growing 
out  of  this  relation."  It  was  known  that  free  negroes  had 
helped  to  circulate  such  literature  as  this,  and  it  was  recom- 
mended that  they  be  required  to  give  bond  not  to  do  so  in  the 
future.  The  Governor's  note  of  warning  was  heard.  The 
first  bill  introduced  was  to  regulate  the  patrol.  A  committee 
of  the  House  of  Commons  was  instructed  to  inquire  into 
the  expediency  of  preventing  the  education  of  slaves,  and  a 
number  of  other  restrictive  bills  and  resolutions  followed 

The  incendiary  publication  referred  to  was  by  one  Walker, 
of  Boston.3  I  presume  this  was  David  Walker,  the  third 
edition  of  whose  "Appeal  in  Four  Articles"  had  just  been 
issued.  This  appeal,  said  he,  was  made  to  rescue  the  negro 
from  wretchedness  in  consequence  of  slavery,  ignorance,  reli- 

1  Raleigh  Register,  January  2,  1827. 

3 Ibid.,  November  18  and  25,  and  December  2,  1830. 

s  Ibid.,  December  9,  1830. 

417]         The  Triumph  of  the  Pro-Slavery  Sentiment.         101 

gious  teachers  and  the  colonization  plan.  It  was  written  by 
a  negro  and  was  intended  to  incite  negroes  to  progress. 
They  were  urged  not  to  be  content  with  the  position  of 
menials,  but  to  educate  their  children.  The  habit  of  the 
whites  of  teaching  negro  children  in  Sunday  Schools  was 
denounced,  evidently  because  it  tended  to  make  the  negroes 
contented  with  slavery.  Garrison  reprinted  much  of  this 
pamphlet  in  one  of  the  early  numbers  of  the  Liberator.1  It 
was  not  openly  and  violently  incendiary,  to  be  sure,  but  it 
aimed  to  make  the  negro  discontented  with  his  lot,  and 
falling  into  the  hands  of  slaves  might  well  be  construed  to 
lead  to  any  kind  of  a  stroke  against  their  shackles.  To  the 
North  Carolina  Legislaure  it  was  a  most  serious  matter. 
The  Senate  went  into  secret  session  on  it,  the  second  secret 
session  in  the  history  of  the  State.  The  bill  to  prevent  slaves 
being  taught  to  read  and  write  was  taken  up  and  went 
through  the  Senate  on  its  second  reading  without  a  divi- 
sion. Mr.  Robert  P.  Dick,  of  Guilford,  protested 
in  the  name  of  many  of  his  constituents  who  con- 
ceived that  it  was  their  duty  to  teach  the  slaves  to  read  the 
Bible.2  The  bill  was  finally  enacted.  The  tide  had  turned. 
The  pro-slavery  minority  that  had  often  tried  to  pass  this 
bill  had  at  last  been  able  to  get  it  through.  This  faction 
was  not  only  supreme  in  the  Assembly,  but  it  soon  became 
supreme  in  society  at  large.  It  took  its  case  into  the  realm 
of  literature.  Arguments  sociological,  arguments  ethno- 
logical, arguments  psychological,  arguments  biblical,  and 
goodness  knows  how  many  others  were  hurled  at  the  slave. 
The  very  nature  of  the  controversy  engendered  passion.  The 
abolitionist  considered  slavery  a  crime  against  the  slaves. 
His  saying  so  reflected  on  the  moral  integrity  of  the  masters. 
Specifications  of  the  criminality  were  enumerated.  The 
masters  became  angrier.  The  passions  once  kindled  might 
be  relied  on  to  keep  themselves  burning.     It  would  have 

xThe  Liberator,  April  23,  1831. 

2  Raleigh  Register,  December  9,  1830. 

102  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [418 

taken  admirable  self-control  for  either  side  to  have  stopped 
or  to  have  turned  aside  the  flood.  Said  Mr.  Julius  Rock- 
well: "It  is  no  credit  to  the  civilization  of  the  nineteenth 
century  that  slavery  could  not  have  been  abolished  without 
that  horrid  war."  It  was  slavery  itself  that  defeated  the 
humaner  forces  of  civilization.  Had  slavery  not  been 
slavery  the  minds  of  men  might  have  been  calmer  in  its 
presence,  but  then  there  had  been  no  need  of  abolition. 

After  the  triumph  of  1830  the  dominant  faction  was  more 
determined  than  ever  to  protect  slavery.  The  Governor  in 
his  message  in  1831  referred  to  the  discontent  among  the 
slaves,  and  recommended  the  organization  at  the  expense 
of  the  State  of  a  reliable  county  militia  to  be  held  ready  to 
march  at  a  moment's  notice.  His  recommendation  was  not 
adopted.  Neither  were  a  number  of  bills  brought  in  to 
restrict  the  action  of  slaves. 

In  1835  a  joint  committee  on  incendiary  literature,  of 
which  Thomas  G.  Polk  was  chairman,  reported  in  favor  of 
a  permanent  policy  in  regard  to  such  literature.  This  the 
State  could  undoubtedly  do  and  "no  other  State,  and  no 
other  portion  of  a  people  of  any  other  State  can  claim  to 
interfere  in  the  matter,  either  by  authority,  advice,  or  persua- 
sion; and  such  an  attempt,  from  whatever  quarter  it  may 
come,  must  ever  be  met  by  us  with  distrust  and  repelled  with 
indignation.  *  *  *  Whatever  institution  or  state  of 
society  we  think  proper  to  establish  or  to. permit  is  by  no 
other  State  to  be  disturbed  or  questioned.  We  enter  not 
into  the  inquiry  whether  such  institution  be  deemed  by 
another  State  just  or  expedient.  It  is  sufficient  that  we  think 
proper  to  allow  it.  *  *  *  We  do  full  justice  to  the 
general  sentiments  and  feelings  of  our  fellow-citizens  in 
other  States,  and  are  fully  aware  that  the  attempts  to>  injure 
us  are  made  by  a  small  minority — composed  probably  of 
many  misguided  and  some  wicked  men,  and  that  these 
attempts  meet  with  no  favor,  but  on  the  other  hand  with 
marked  disapprobation  from  a  large  majority  of  the  com- 
munities in  which  they  are  made.    Still  it  must  be  recollected 

419]         The  Triumph  of  the  Pro-Slavery  Sentiment.         103 

that  from  the  nature  of  the  means  employed  the  danger  to 
us  is  the  same."  "We  asked  not  assistance,"  continued  the 
committee,  "to  put  down  insurrectionary  movements  among 
our  slaves,  for  should  such  occur  we  are  fully  able  to  put 
them  down  ourselves.  But  we  ask  that  our  slaves  and  our- 
selves may  be  relieved  from  external  interference.  Left  to 
themselves,  we  believe  our  slaves,  as  a  laboring  class,  are  as 
little  dangerous  to  society  as  any  in  the  world.  But  we  do 
ask,  and  think  we  have  a  right  to  demand,  that  others  do 
not  teach  them  evil  of  which  they  do  not  think  themselves." 
The  report  closed  as  follows :  "Though  we  feel  the  greatest 
attachment  for  the  Union,  and  would  do  all  in  our  power 
to  strengthen  and  perpetuate  it,  yet  we  are  not  ready  to 
surrender  those  very  rights  and  blessings  which  that  Union 
was  formed  to  protect;  and  should  the  means  now  adopted 
prove  ineffectual  in  stopping  the  progress  of  these  attacks 
on  our  peace  and  happiness,  we  would  invoke  the  aid  of  the 
other  slaveholding  States  that  there  may  be  concert  of  action 
in  taking  such  steps  as  the  occasion  may  demand."1  With 
this  report  were  some  resolutions  in  the  same  spirit,  and 
these  were  passed  by  a  large  majority. 

By  the  side  of  this  I  should  like  to  place  a  resolution  which 
the  Raleigh  Register,  June  4,  1836,  said  had  just  been 
adopted  by  the  New  England  Anti-Slavery  Society.    It  read  : 

Resolved,  That  regarding  a  surrender  of  the  right  of  free  discus- 
sion upon  the  altar  of  Southern  slavery  as  involving  on  our  part  the 
commission  of  moral  suicide,  treachery  to  the  cause  of  civil  liberty, 
of  humility  and  guilt  before  high  Heaven,  we  hereby  pledge  ourselves 
to  one  another — to  the  oppressor  and  the  oppressed — to  our  country 
and  our  God — that,  undeterred  by  threats  or  persecution  at  common 
law,  v/hether  in  the  messages  of  the  governors,  the  pages  of  our 
theological  reviews,  or  the  reports  of  legislative  committees — come 
what  may,  gag  law  or  lynch  law,  we  will  never  cease  to  work 
for  its  exercise — full,  free,  and  undiminished — until  the  last  fetter 
shall  be  broken  and  slavery  and  prejudice  shall  be  buried  in  one  com- 
mon grave. 

2  Raleigh  Register,  January  5,  1836. 

104  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [420 

Alas !  that  was  a  good  way  to  bury  slavery,  but  neither  the 
resolutions  of  the  North  Carolina  Assembly  nor  those  of 
the  New  England  Society  were  calculated  to  diminish  preju- 

The  change  in  public  opinion  is  well  illustrated  by  the 
course  of  the  Raleigh  Register.  Its  editor,  Joseph  Gales,  had 
left  England  in  1794  on  account  of  a  certain  connection  with 
a  violent  pamphlet  of  a  French  republican  flavor.  His  love 
of  liberty  made  him  steadily  opposed  to  slavery.  He  was  a 
follower  of  Jefferson  and  later  on  a  Whig.  He  certainly  did 
not  represent  the  general  sentiment  on  the  slavery  question, 
but  even  the  opinions  of  his  paper  were  not  proof  against 
the  pro-slavery  impulse  of  public  thought.  In  1818  the 
Register  described  slavery  as  "a  Upas  tree  of  most  frightful 
dimensions  and  most  poisonous  qualities."  In  1825,  when 
another  paper  declared  that  the  Register  was  "very  little  in 
unison"  with  the  opinions  of  the  great  body  of  slaveholders, 
Mr.  Gales  replied : 

We  consider  slavery  an  evil,  a  great  evil,  but  one  imposed  on  us 
without  our  consent,  and  therefore  necessary,  though  we  cannot 
believe  irremediable,  hopeless  and  perpetual.  On  the  simple  ques- 
tion: "Ought  slavery  to  exist"  we  presume  but  few  persons  would 
answer  in  the  affirmative,  and  still  fewer  would  be  found  bold  enough 
to  advocate  the  practice  as  being  right  in  itself  or  to  justify  it,  except 
on  the  broad  plea  of  necessity.  That  it  would  conduce  equally  to  the 
interest  and  happiness  of  the  slaveholding  States  to  get  rid  of  this 
part  of  our  population  few  will  deny.  It  is  a  dead  weight  which 
mars  all  enterprise  and  clogs  the  wheels  of  the  political  machine. 
None  can  doubt  that  if  North  Carolina  could  give  the  whole  of 
her  colored  population  for  one-half  the  number  of  whites  she  would 
be  among  the  foremost  in  the  race  of  active  improvements  now  run- 
ning by  most  of  the  free  States.  We  hope  the  time  will  come, 
though  it  is  probably  far  distant,  when  a  better  order  of  things  will 
prevail  in  this  respect.1 

In  1830  the  Register  had  begun  to  change  its  tone.  It 
pronounced  "highly  seditious"  the  anti-slavery  articles  then 

1  Raleigh  Register,  September  20,  1825. 

421]         The  Triumph  of  the  Pro-Slavery  Sentiment.         105 

appearing  in  the  Greensboro  Patriot,  of  which  William 
Swaim  was  the  editor.  In  1835  the  Register  declared  itself 
as  follows : 

Until  recently  we  were  disposed  to  regard  the  movements  of  the 
abolitionists  with  indifference  and  contempt  ;  but  it  is  folly  to  shut 
our  eyes  to  the  fact  that  they  are  rapidly  augmenting  in  numbers,  and 
that  their  zeal  and  exertion  are  increasing  in  even  greater  ratio.  By 
a  late  circular,  signed  by  Arthur  Tappan,  Lewis  Tappan,  the  Rev.  Dr. 
Cox,  etc.,  it  seems  that  they  are  determined  to  raise  $30,000  during 
the  present  year  to  be  devoted  to  printing  and  circulating  gratuitously 
inflammatory  papers  calculated  to  do  extensive  mischief.1 

Four  weeks  later  the  same  paper,  on  the  authority  of 
Lewis  Tappan,  said  that  the  abolitionists  had  printed  175,000 
abolition  circulars,  of  which  1000  had  been  destroyed  in 
Charleston.  "The  rest,"  said  Tappan,  "are  accomplishing 
the  designs  intended  throughout  the  United  States.  We 
will  persevere,  come  life  or  death.  If  any  fall  by  the  hand 
of  violence,  others  will  continue  the  blessed  work."  By  this 
time  the  Register  was  out  and  out  a  pro-slavery  organ.  This 
change  in  sentiment  in  a  most  conservative  paper — the  edi- 
torial management  of  which  remained  continually  in  the  same 
family — father  and  son — during  this  entire  period,  must 
have  been  indicative  of  a  much  stronger  popular  change.2 

Co-existent  with  the  facts  just  mentioned  there  was  a 
strong  political  side  to  this  change.  The  Whigs  were,  for 
most  of  the  period  before  the  Civil  War,  more  opposed  to 
slavery  than  the  Democrats.  They  now  found  themselves 
uncomfortably  placed  between  two  fires.  Abolitionists 
charged  them  with  favoring  slaveholders.  Pro-slavery  peo- 
ple charged  them  with  a  leaning  towards  Northern  abolition 
doctrines.  Each  charge  was  denied.   In  each  there  was  some 

'Raleigh  Register,  October  1,  1835. 

"Sometime  before  his  death  in  1842  Joseph  Gales  went  to  live  in 
Washington  City,  leaving  the  editorial  management  of  the  paper  in 
the  hands  of  his  son.  I  can  find  no  date  for  this,  but  it  was  hardly 
so  early  as  1835.  At  that  time  the  paper  announced  at  its  head  that 
it  was  published  by  "Gales  and  Son." 

106  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [422 

show  of  truth.  Whiggery  was  already  being  dragged  into 
the  maelstrom  of  sectionalism,  which  was  destined  to-  destroy 
it.  In  North  Carolina  it  did  not  dare  to  oppose  slavery.  At 
the  time  about  which  I  have  been  speaking,  another  issue 
overshadowed  all  others.  It  was  the  question  of  apportion- 
ment of  seats  in  the  Assembly.  The  Constitution  provided 
that  each  county  should  have  equal  representation.  The 
western  counties  were  larger  than  many  eastern  counties  and 
demanded  an  apportionment  of  seats  according  to  popula- 
tion. The  struggle  was  won  by  the  West,  and  the  desired 
reform  was  accomplished  by  the  constitutional  convention 
of  1835. x  This  put  a  new  complexion  on  State  politics  for  a 
few  years ;  but  as  soon  as  this  issue  was  forgotten — and  it 
was  not  long  in  doing  so — the  two  parties  were  drawn  into 
discussion  of  the  slavery  question.  It  was  in  the  campaign  of 
1840  that  the  matter  first  became  prominent.  The  Standard, 
a  Democratic  paper  at  Raleigh,  called  the  Whigs  "abolition- 
ists." The  Register,  which  was  the  leading  Whig  organ, 
charged  Van  Buren  with  favoring  negro  equality.  The 
controversy  became  warm.  The  Democrats  attacked  Mr. 
Morehead,  Whig  candidate  for  Governor,  because  he  had 
prepared  a  report  against  the  bill  to  prevent  the  instruction 
of  slaves.  The  Whigs  replied  that  Mr.  Haywood,  the  Demo- 
cratic candidate,  had  done  the  same  thing.  The  Whig  candi- 
date was  looked  upon  with  suspicion,  because  he  was  from 
Guilford  County,  where  anti-slavery  ideas  were  abundant. 
The  Whigs  replied  by  charging  that  Mr.  Saunders,  a  Demo- 
cratic ex-Congressman,  had  presented  to  Congress  a  petition 
from  the  Manumission  Society  of  Guilford  County.  When 
the  Whigs  finally  won  in  1840  the  Register  announced  the 
victory  under  the  headlines :  Whiggery  Victorious  !  The 
Black  Flag  of  Abolition  Laid  Low ! 

After  1840  the  controversy  slept  till  1846,  when  the  Wil- 
mot   Proviso   was    introduced.      It    now    became    violent. 

]See  the  author's  "Suffrage  in  North  Carolina,"  Report  of  the 
American  Historical  Association,  1895. 

423]         The  Triumph  of  the  Pro-Slavery  Sentiment.         107 

The  Democrats  had  the  Whigs  on  the  defensive.  The  latter 
were  forced  to  repudiate  the  action  of  the  New  England 
Whigs,  who  had  just  endorsed  the  proviso  in  a  convention 
at  Springfield,  Mass.  The  result  was  satisfactory.  The 
Whigs  were  still  strong,  and  carried  the  State  by  what  was 
then  a  substantial  majority  of  7000.  In  1848  the  controversy 
for  equal  suffrage  began,  the  Democrats  favoring  it  and  the 
Whigs  opposing.  It  ran  strong,  but  the  feeling  on  the 
slavery  question  was  not  allayed.  The  two  parties  vied  with 
one  another  in  denouncing  abolition. 

In  the  storm  of  feeling  which  preceded  the  compromise 
measures  of  1850,  North  Carolina  was  not  untouched.  The 
strongly  conservative  feeling  of  the  State  was  brought  into 
play,  and  the  resolutions  which  were  introduced  into  the  Leg- 
islature were  milder  than  they  would  have  been  in  some 
other  Southern  States.  On  January  16,  1849,  the 
Assembly  resolved  all  but  unanimously,  that  to  forbid  slav- 
ery in  the  District  of  Columbia  or  in  the  territories  would 
be  a  "grave  injustice  and  wrong"  and  contrary  to  the  spirit 
of  the  Constitution,  and  that  they  were  willing  to  stand  by 
the  Missouri  Compromise.  An  amendment  to  these  resolu- 
tions was  offered  by  the  House  of  Commons  and  concurred 
in  by  the  Senate,  pledging  the  State  more  strongly  than 
ever  to  the  Union  and  repudiating  "whatever  may  suggest 
even  a  suspicion  that  it  can  in  any  event  be  abandoned.  This 
amendment  was  introduced  into  the  House  by  Edward  Stan- 
ley, of  Beaufort  County,1  who  was  a  Union  man  of  the 
strongest  sort. 

In  the  session  of  1850-51  the  same  matter  came  up  again. 
A  joint  committee  was  appointed  to  act  for  the  two  Houses. 
A  report  was  prepared  and  submitted.  It  was  in  favor  of 
accepting  the  Compromise  of  1850,  but  sounded  a  note  of 
warning  in  regard  to  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law.  There  were 
many  resolutions  on  this  subject  before  the  Assembly.  One 
of  them  expressed,  perhaps,  pretty  thoroughly  the  feeling 

1  Journal  of  the  Assembly  of  1848-49,  pp.  717  and  725. 

108  Slavery  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  [424 

of  most  of  the  members.  It  ran :  "Resolved,  That  we  will 
have  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law  or  fight."  Many  amendments 
were  offered  to  the  resolutions  of  the  committee,  and  an 
intricate  debate  was  just  beginning  when  the  matter  sud- 
denly dropped  out  of  the  journal  of  the  Assembly,  leaving  us 
to  guess  the  cause.  Perhaps  it  was  because  the  Assembly  was 
brought  to  realize  the  futility  of  bringing  on  a  discussion 
which  would  create  feeling  and  endanger  the  Union,  all  to 
accomplish  no  definite  end.  The  compromise  laws  had 
then  been  passed  in  Congress,  and  as  yet  the  Fugitive  Slave 
Law  had  not  been  tried.  It  was  evidently  in  the  interest  of 
good' sense  to  say  nothing  about  the  slavery  question. 

The  last  decade  before  the  war  was  quiet  enough  so  far 
as  the  political  relation  of  slavery  was  concerned.  There  was, 
as  the  crisis  approached,  a  considerable  amount  of  sectional 
recrimination,  but  it  does  not  belong  to  the  history  of  slavery, 
but  rather  to  the  larger  history  of  the  great  sectional  strug- 
gle. In  the  meantime,  and,  indeed,  for  a  decade  and  a  half 
previously,  there  had  been  no  legislation  of  importance  which 
bore  on  slavery.  The  status  of  the  slaves  had  been  fixed  to 
the  satisfaction  of  the  masters  by  the  legislation  which  came 
closely  before  or  after  1830.  This  intermediate  period  was 
marked  by  profound  quiet  on  the  part  of  the  slaves.  The 
negroes  were  prostrate,  restrained  at  every  point  by  law.  So 
completely  were  they  subjected  that  they  gave  no  trouble 
during  the  war  that  followed.  During  this  war  it  was 
not  found  necessary  to  amend  the  law  controlling  the  con- 
duct of  slaves  at  any  vital  point.  This  quietude  of  the  slaves 
has  been  attributed  to  their  good  nature.  It  ought  to  be 
attributed  to  their  lack  of  esprit  du  corps,  their  lack  of 
organization,  and  their  fear  of  the  whites.  They  did  not 
remain  quiet  because  they  loved  slavery.  They  had  small  op- 
portunity for  rebellion.  The  counties  were  closely  defended 
by  home  guards,  embodied  from  the  old  men  and  the  youths 
and  in  each  State  till  the  end  of  the  war  there  were  easily 
accessible  bodies  of  troops  which  would  bave  crushed  with 
fearful  promptitude  an  attempt  at  insurrection.     No  revolt 

425]         The  Triumph  of  the  Pro-Slavery  Sentiment.         109 

that  the  negro  could  have  made  would  have  stood  a  week. 
That  the  negroes  were  willing  enough  to  have  their  liberty, 
even  at  the  expense  of  the  lives  of  their  masters,  is  shown 
by  the  readiness  with  which  they  enlisted  into  regiments  in 
the  Union  Army,  and  by  the  desperate  courage  with  which, 
raw  as  they  were,  they  frequently  bore  themselves  in  battle 
when  under  the  leadership  of  competent  white  officers. 


With  few  exceptions,  I  have  been  thrown  back  on  Quellen, 
and  of  this  class  of  material  the  pieces  have  been  varied  and 
multitudinous-  Slavery  is  unannalled  so  far  as  the  slaves 
themselves  are  concerned.  I  have  been  forced  to  pick  up 
information  here  and  there  as  it  is  found  in  the  documents 
and  other  literature  of  the  white  man.  At  best  I  can  hope 
for  but  little  more  than  that  this,  and  other  works  of  mine 
on  slavery  in  North  Carolina,  may  serve  for  a  point  around 
which  many  more  facts  not  now  in  the  range  of  my  knowl- 
edge may  be  gathered,  till  at  last  the  subject  is  known 
through  and  through. 

My  chief  sources  of  information  have  been  laws  and  legal 
opinions.     Of  these  are : 

Laws  of  North  Carolina,  1790. 

Laws  of  North  Carolina,   1821. 

Revised  Statutes  of  North  Carolina,  1837. 

Revised  Code  of  North  Carolina,  1835. 

Journals  of  the  North  Carolina  Assembly. 

Reports  of  the  cases  in  the  North  Carolina  Supreme 

I  have  found  much  information  in  the  newspapers  of  the 
day,  particularly  the  Raleigh  Register,  and  the  North  Caro- 
lina Standard. 

Other  materials  of  a  more  miscellaneous  nature  are: 

Caruthers,  E.  W. :  American  Slavery  and  the  Immediate 
Duty  of  Slaveholders,  an  unpublished  manuscript  now  in 
possession  of  the  library  of  Greensboro  Female  College 
(N.  C.) 

Wightman :  Life  of  Bishop  Capers. 

Drew :  Life  of  Dr.  Thomas  Coke. 

Hawkins :  Memoir  of  Lunsford  Lane. 

427]  Authorities.  Ill 

Biggs :    History  of  the  Kehuckee  Association. 

Purefoy :  History  of  the  Sandy  Creek  Association. 

Weeks :    Southern  Quakers  and  Slavery. 

Hoss :  Sketch  of  the  Life  of  Elihu  Embree.  Publications 
of  Vanderbilt  Historical  Society,  No.  2,  1897. 

Smith:   History  of  Education  in  North  Carolina. 

Olmsted :  Journey  in  the  Seaboard  Slave  States. 

Du  Bois:  The  Suppression  of  the  Slave  Trade. 

North  Carolina  Colonial  Records,  Vol.  IX. 

De  Bow's  Review. 

Weaver :  The  North  Carolina  Manumission  Society.  The 
Historical  Papers  of  the  Trinity  College  (N.  C.)  Historical 

Chreitzberger :  Early  Methodism  in  Wilmington,  N.  C. 
The  first  annual  publication  of  the  Historical  Society  of  the 
North  Carolina  Conference  of  the  M.  E.  Church  South,  1897. 

Gaston,  Wm. :  Address  at  Commencement  at  the  Univer- 
sity of  North  Carolina,  1832. 

David  Dodge  [O.  W.  Blacknall]  :  Free  Negoes  of  North 
Carolina.     The  Atlantic  Monthly,  January,  1886. 

Minutes  of  the  Conference  of  the  Methodist  Episcopal 

Disciplines  of  the  Methodist  Episcopal  Church. 

Minutes  of  the  Chowan  Baptist  Association. 

Minutes  of  the  North  Carolina  Baptist  Convention. 

McCill :  American  Slavery  as  Viewed  and  Acted  on  by  the 
Presbyterian  Church  in  America. 

"Presbyterianism  and  Slavery."  Official  document  pub- 
lished for  the  use  of  the  General  Assembly  of  the  Presby- 
terian Church  at  Pittsburg,  1836. 

Journal  of  the  North  Carolina  Episcopal  Convention — not 

Bassett,  J.  S. :  Slavery  and  Servitude  in  the  Colony  of 
North  Carolina.  Hopkins  Studies  in  History  and  Politics, 
1896.  Anti-Slavery  Leaders  of  North  Carolina,  Ibid.,  1897. 
Suffrage  in  the  State  of  North  Carolina.  Publication  of  the 
American  Historical  Association,  1895. 



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versity. Edited  by  J.  H.  Hollander,  Ph.  D.,  Associate  in  Econ- 
omics in  the  Johns  Hopkins  University.     In  Preparation. 

Six  studies  of  commonwealth  taxation  in  the  United  States,  made 
simultaneously  and  upon  an  identical  plan  by  graduate  students  of  the 
Johns  Hopkins  University,  are  presented  in  this  volume.  The  States 
represented — Maryland,  Virginia,  North  Carolina,  Georgia,  Mississippi 
and  Kansas — fairly  reproduce  the  characteristic  features  of  the  South. 
The  existing  system  of  State  taxation  is  described  in  detail  in  each  case, 
and  attention  called  to  defects  and  possible  remedies.  The  results  are 
of  particular  value  as  emphasizing  the  impracticability  of  any  universal 
application  of  commonly  accepted  principles  of  tax  reform.  The  un- 
derlying unity  of  the  volume  is  pointed  out  in  an  introductory  state- 
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marized in  a  concluding  chapter  by  the  contributors. 

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Bassett,  John  Spencer,  1867-1928, 
Slavery  in  the  state  of  North  Carolina 

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